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VICEROY Comes to the Southeast

July 14, 2021

The Griffiss Institute (GI), a nonprofit talent and technology accelerator for the United States Department of Defense, has announced its intention to award nearly $2,000,000 to a consortium of three universities. Mississippi State University, Augusta University and Clark Atlanta University were selected to form a Virtual Institute for Cyber and Electromagnetic Spectrum Research and Employ (VICEROY) for the southeastern United States.

The consortium of Mississippi State University (MSU), Augusta University (AU) and Clark Atlanta University (CAU) (HBCU) leverages existing educational partnerships that AU has with the US Army Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon, GA and MSU have with the 2nd US Air Force at Keesler AFB, MS as well as the existing strong partnership between CAU and AU.

AU, CAU and MSU faculty members will focus on providing "hands-on" experiential learning experiences through distributed, virtual machine-based labs and team-taught special topics courses focused on subjects relevant to cyber operations as defined by the NSA CAE in Cyber Operations program. Typically, the subjects most in demand are wireless engineering, software reverse engineering and technology-based digital forensics. Students will have the opportunity during Spring, Summer and Fall breaks to sit in classes side-by-side with Army and Air Force personnel.

A major impact of the virtual institute will be the emergence of joint academic programs that are exemplars for each of the six required academic areas: 1) Programs leading to certifications and cyber-related degrees, 2) Targeted strategic foreign language proficiency training, 3) Programs focused on the mathematical foundations of cryptography, 4) Programs related to data science, 5) Developing an early interest in cyber careers and cyber talent, 6) Training and education programs to expand the pool of qualified cyber instructors.

Participating students will be drawn from sources including DoD Cyber Scholarship Program, NSF Scholarship for Service Program, ROTC programs and domestic students from Computer Science/ Engineering, Electrical Engineering and other related fields. Scholarship students will receive funding for successfully completing 9 hours of specific cyber courses and/or successfully passing a DoD 8570-recognized cyber certifications. This ensures 100% of funded students meet the program requirements and allows full participation from ROTC students (both contracted and scholarship cadets, DOD Cyber Scholarship students and NSF Cybercorps students.

VICEROY Scholars in our region will receive up to $10,000 each to support their cyber careers.

This proposal will fund fifty students over the first two years and then twenty-five students annually. Students will be incentivized to take cyber-related courses outside of their majors and to complete DoD 8570-compliant commercial cyber certifications. Students earning this jointly administered program will be required to take at least one course from each of these three areas: data science, targeted foreign languages and cyber certifications. Alternately, students may select two courses from one area and one course from another area.

For example, a student from any university could opt to take two courses in the Chinese language and one course in Security+. This effort will achieve three key objectives: (1) We will enhance the pipeline for future cyber leaders by enriching the educational experiences of ROTC students, scholarship students with government service obligations and domestic STEM-based cybersecurity students. (2) Diversity of the pipeline will be enhanced by CAU's membership in the consortium, (3) AU, CAU and MSU will enhance their stature as leaders in technology areas specifically called by the NSA in the NSA Cyber Operations program.

The Mississippi State effort is led by Dr. Drew Hamilton, Director of the Center for Cyber Innovation and Professor of Computer Science & Engineering. Dr. Michael Nowatkowski an Associate Professor of Computer and Cyber Sciences leads the Augusta University program. Clark Atlanta University's participation is led by Dr. Roy George, Professor and Chair of the Department of Cyber-Systems.

By Drew Hamilton