A new and next generation of cybersecurity professionals has to come from somewhere and there are more schools creating and participating in training.

Arizona State University is no different as the School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering just earned a two-year, $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to establish an institute that will develop national and global cybersecurity educational standards and curriculums designed to address critical workforce shortages.

Building on a variety of innovative, grant-funded research projects and a highly ranked educational program, this new award helps ASU’s efforts to establish Arizona as a global cybersecurity hub.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said cybersecurity threats to critical infrastructure are one of the country’s greatest strategic risks. The Internet Crime Report, compiled annually by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, charts alarming growth in cybercrime, noting a record number of complaints in 2023 with $12.5 billion in reported financial losses.

As part of its Global Security Initiative and with funding from DARPA, ASU established the American Cybersecurity Education Institute, or ACE Institute. Under the grant, the ACE Institute will focus on preparing students across the country for the toughest challenges and recruiting learners to fill the job pipeline in the future.

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One of the ACE Institute’s first steps will be to create a master’s degree in cybersecurity to prepare graduates for the highly advanced work done at agencies such as DARPA. The degree program is scheduled to begin enrolling in 2025. The school’s undergraduate program is currently ranked No. 16 in cybersecurity by U.S. News & World Report.

Master’s degree students will participate in real-world training exercises, learning to both hack and secure highly complex systems. They will also acquire the skills needed to build and deploy artificial intelligence and machine learning applications for the cybersecurity sector.

Dakota State University will join the ACE Institute as a founding partner, while other universities and institutions will participate in future roles.

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