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N.C. A&T, IBM TO ESTABLISH CYBERSECURITY LEADERSHIP CENTER, BOOST DIVERSITY IN FIELD

By: North Carolina A&T State University

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will collaborate with IBM to establish a virtual Cybersecurity Leadership Center aimed to enhance opportunities for learning, application and professional development for students and faculty.

“North Carolina A&T State University being chosen as one of the first six HBCU (historically Black college and university) Cybersecurity Leadership Centers is a great privilege that will provide our students with access to top-notch education, technology, and industry professionals and will ensure the future cybersecurity workforce will be diverse, experienced and capable of protecting this country,” said Hossein Sarrafzadeh, Ph.D., director of the Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity Research, Education and Outreach (CREO). “IBM recognizes the untapped talent at HBCUs, and with this investment, they are building a cybersecurity education infrastructure that will propel underrepresented communities to the forefront of security leadership.”

A&T joins this initiative with Clark Atlanta University, Morgan State University, South Carolina State University, Southern University System and Xavier University of Louisiana.

Specifically, IBM will provide access to:

  • Cybersecurity curricula: IBM will develop for each HBCU, a customized IBM Security Learning Academy portal – an IBM client offering – including courses designed to help the university enhance its cybersecurity education portfolio
  • Immersive learning experience: Faculty and students will have an opportunity to benefit from IBM Security’s Command Center, through which they can experience a highly realistic, simulated cyberattack, designed to prepare them and train them on response techniques. Moreover, faculty will have access to consultation sessions with IBM technical personnel on cybersecurity
  • Cloud access: IBM will provide faculty and students with no-cost access to multiple SaaS IBM Cloud environments

In a recent announcement, IBM noted the Cybersecurity Leadership Center is the result of a pledge the company’s leaders made last year in efforts to “build a more diverse U.S. cyber workforce” and “underscore IBM’s focus on providing STEM job training to traditionally underrepresented communities as part of its commitment to skill 30 million people worldwide by 2030 to create equitable, inclusive economic opportunities while also addressing a longstanding STEM job skills shortage impacting the business community.”

“We believe that the most promising job candidates for today’s demanding careers will come from communities that may have been historically overlooked or excluded due to outdated hiring policies and old-fashioned credentialing,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, vice president, IBM Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental, Social and Governance. “That’s why we’re uniting the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors to cultivate STEM talent from underrepresented communities to address the world’s most critical challenges.”

The university has cemented its leadership in cybersecurity research and its preparation of the next generation of leaders in the field through CREO and the College of Engineering, which consistently garners national recognition, including recent graduate program rankings for the college and its computer science program in U.S. News & World Report.

The Cybersecurity Leadership Center builds upon an already-existing relationship between A&T and the company, following the university’s designation as an IBM-HBCU Quantum Research Center.

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