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News Release

Date: January 30, 2006
Media Contact: Elizabeth Homan, 301-251-7970; David Hall, 301-353-7827

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Montgomery College Partners in $3 Million Cybersecurity Project Funded by National Science Foundation

Montgomery College and a regional consortium of Washington area higher education institutions, high schools, and a government agency have been awarded a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant, which will be distributed over a four-year period, will support the CyberWATCH (Cybersecurity: Washington Area Technician and Consortium Headquarters) project to establish and operate a regional center in cybersecurity. 

In addition to Montgomery College, the CyberWATCH consortium includes Prince George’s Community College, which is the project leader, Anne Arundel Community College, the College of Southern Maryland, the Community College of Baltimore County, Howard Community College, Northern Virginia Community College, George Mason University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, Towson University, University of Maryland College Park, University of Maryland University College, five Cisco Academy high schools and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Consortium members will collaborate to address the shortage of cybersecurity technicians and educational curricula in the metropolitan area.  The goals of the project are to establish a remote information technology (IT) security lab, develop cybersecurity curricula, and create internships for students and training and externships for faculty.

Under the management of David Hall, Montgomery College’s CyberWATCH director, Montgomery College will build and maintain a state-of-the-art Remote IT Security Lab to be used by all members of the consortium. With the high cost associated with state-of-the-art equipment, the lab will keep consortium member institutions from having to invest in their own labs and educational equipment.  The lab will be virtual, which will give students at other institutions the opportunity to practice and study IT security techniques by accessing the Internet during class.  The lab will accommodate 12 remote students simultaneously.  Initially, the lab will have equipment to teach router, switch, and firewall security as well as workstation and server security courses.   

“There is a demand in this area for skilled cybersecurity technicians, who can protect our nation’s information against intrusion,” said Hall, Montgomery College’s CyberWATCH director.  “We are pleased to be a partner in the CyberWATCH project and look forward to creating the remote security lab at Montgomery College.  The cooperation of these organizations will ensure that Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. students are prepared and competitive in the marketplace.”

Montgomery College will join other CyberWATCH members in developing cybersecurity curricula at their institutions.  Anne Arundel Community College already has a program, which follows the National Security Agency’s training standards.  Montgomery College will follow AACC’s example and create new classes and a degree program in network security, which would allow students to start a career upon graduation or transfer to a four-year institution to pursue a bachelor’s degree. 

With the rapid upgrade in IT equipment, professional development opportunities will be created for faculty and high school teachers, which would include workshops and conferences.  Faculty externships will also be available.  Students will have the opportunity to receive internships at area businesses and job placement assistance.

The Washington D.C. consortium is the only cybersecurity center on the East Coast funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program.  There are two other cybersecurity consortiums in the nation—Chicago, which involves five states and is led by Moraine Valley Community College, and Oklahoma, which is housed at the University of Tulsa.

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Montgomery College is a public, open admissions community college with campuses in Germantown, Rockville, and Takoma Park/Silver Spring, plus workforce development/continuing education centers and off-site programs throughout Montgomery County, Md.  The College serves more than 55,000 students a year, through both credit and noncredit programs, in more than 100 areas of study.

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