The relationship between a qualified, competent workforce and a company’s ability to attract and retain competitive contracts is not lost on state leaders and company CEOs. Just as Virginia has announced initiatives to attract cybersecurity business to the state, Maryland is now moving forward with a new program called the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES). The University of Maryland and Northrop Grumman Corporation are joining forces for the initiative, which will “immerse undergraduate students in all aspects of the field to meet growing manpower needs in the nation and the State of Maryland.”

Recognizing that today’s cybersecurity talent comes from a cross section of backgrounds and with a variety of skills, the program is targeted to majors from computer science and engineering to business and public policy. With many universities just beginning to create curriculum that fits the specific cybersecurity niche, the ACES program promises an advanced curriculum with input from both industry and government. Students who enroll with the program will have the option to intern with Northrop Grumman, and potentially begin the security clearance process.

With cybersecurity skills increasingly seen as a college student’s silver bullet when it comes to guaranteed employment, the program will offer many students an even greater head start with the potential to obtain a security clearance and get coveted industry and government experience.

A $1.1 million grant from Northrop Grumman will fund the program for two years, beginning in the fall of 2013.

"We are fully committed to developing solutions to help eliminate the nation’s shortage of critical STEM-educated talent and by partnering with the University of Maryland, we will address workforce challenges in the increasingly important field of cybersecurity,” said Northrop Grumman’s Wes Bush. “The university has an outstanding track record for developing innovative educational programs to answer real-world needs, excellent research capabilities through its Maryland Cybersecurity Center, and close relationships with the many federal agencies and corporations in the Washington, D.C., area likewise concerned about cybersecurity."

The ACES announcement comes on the heels of a Department of Homeland Security announcement concerning the creation of a new cyber workforce development program. Both government and the private sector are increasingly looking to both workforce development and early recruiting in colleges and universities in order to full critical shortages of cybersecurity professionals.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.