Eight Virginia universities announce cybersecurity workforce projects

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Researchers from eight Virginia universities will soon take part in $1 million worth of state-funded cybersecurity and autonomous vehicle-focused research projects through a statewide research initiative, Virginia Tech announced on Thursday.

The projects are all designed to benefit different aspects of the cybersecurity workforce, including bio-cybersecurity — an emerging field related to health care and health data — and autonomous vehicle cybersecurity, as well as several dedicated to boosting cybersecurity startups and expanding internships in the information security industry.

The universities involved — George Mason University, Longwood University, Marymount University, Old Dominion University, Radford University, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and William and Mary — will put students to work on real-world cybersecurity projects, like the establishment of a Cybersecurity Monitoring Command and Control Center at the Port of Virginia, and offer hands-on training at Virginia Tech’s cyber-power security system test bed, another project slated to launch this year that will let students investigate how to secure 5G networks. Students at William and Mary will be paired with companies working with data related to cybersecurity risk.

The slate of projects will be funded through the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, a state-organized network of researchers at colleges and universities that’s anchored at Virginia Tech’s campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. The CCI was signed into law by state legislators in 2018 to develop the cybersecurity workforce and attract cybersecurity companies. The state approved $17.5 million in funding for the network in April 2020 for FY 2021.

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