I was privileged to attend the announcement in early October of a multi-million-dollar grant to the Cyber Innovation Center for expansion of its NICERC curriculum program. While at the event, I was reminded of the reasons we joined with industry, government, and other educational institutions nearly a decade ago to find solutions to an imminent challenge facing the United States – cyber security.
NICERC is the CIC’s cyber, STEM, and computer science curriculum program for grades K through 12. It has made a significant impact on education in north Louisiana for the past decade. The innovative approach has been recognized across our nation as a part of the solution to our nation’s challenge of having enough cyber security professionals well into the future.
The Department of Homeland Security grant worth $4.3 million in the first year will significantly expand the CIC’s educational efforts. Within the next five years – and with just over $21 million in additional grant funding – NICERC’s curriculum will be in 20,000 school districts across the nation. We’ll see 31,000 teachers trained across 2,000 campuses and events, 25 full-year courses spanning all grade levels, and 7 million cyber-literate students.
When we look at the needs that our country will have in the near future for cyber security professionals – it is predicted that open job postings in cyber security will reach 1.5 million by 2020 – we can see the necessity of an investment of this magnitude.
Louisiana Tech is proud to have helped build the curriculum for our local teachers and to provide the four-year degree programs that will continue to develop the Innovation Corridor along I-20 in north Louisiana. By developing programs that enrich our students from the earliest years through college, we are ensuring they will be part of a well-trained workforce ready for the next big challenge.
And our efforts will continue to entice companies like GDIT and others to locate here, bringing jobs that our young people will be ready to fill. We look forward to continuing to build a knowledge and innovation economy in north Louisiana – and sharing that model with the rest of the country – so that the United States can lead our world in the area of cyber security well into the future.
Dr. Leslie K. Guice is President of Louisiana Tech University