There’s no doubt that cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing and most important industries in our technology-driven world — one that is critical to our economy and global competitiveness. That’s why the University of Massachusetts has made a commitment to address the Commonwealth’s growing cybersecurity needs through education, research and workforce development initiatives, and UMass officials continue to partner with government and industry leaders to advance knowledge and develop solutions in this critical area.
In December of 2016, UMass President Marty Meehan joined Gov. Charlie Baker and the Commonwealth’s top leaders in business, health care, education, technology and security on the governor’s trade mission to Israel, where he met some of the world’s top cybersecurity experts and saw firsthand the practices and tactics being developed in the cyber community. With this knowledge, President Meehan returned with a newfound goal to grow the university’s cybersecurity offerings to ensure UMass supports the Commonwealth in this rapidly evolving field.
In September of 2017, university leaders including UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, University System CIO John Letchford and Vice President of Economic Development Katie Stebbins attended the first-ever CEO Cybersecurity Forum co-hosted by Gov. Baker as part of the World Cyber Summit, a two-day event featuring some of the world’s leading cybersecurity experts from business, government and academia.
UMass has also formed the Cybersecurity Education and Training Consortium (CETC), a joint initiative with the Advanced Cyber Security Center (ACSC) that will connect higher education leaders in the Commonwealth with the private sector to ensure that academic programming in cybersecurity aligns with the needs of Massachusetts employers. This new initiative will include the state’s Workforce Skills Secretaries: Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta, Education Secretary James Peyser, and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.
Across the five-campus system, UMass currently has several cybersecurity initiatives in place:
- Last year, UMass Amherst established the Cyber Security Institute, which convenes a cross-disciplinary cadre of faculty from computer science, engineering, math, policy, management and finance to drive cybersecurity education and research. The Institute also seeks partnerships from colleagues across the Five College Consortium, which includes Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Smith and Hampshire Colleges.
- UMass Amherst has established the PenTest Club, a group of students who are passionate about the real-life application of cybersecurity techniques. This organization also represents UMass at the annual National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.
- Thousands of students are enrolled in cybersecurity-related classes at UMass campuses in Amherst, Lowell and Dartmouth that span several degrees and disciplines, including computer science, criminal justice, business and accounting.
- UMass Lowell has taken a leadership role in cybersecurity research and development as well as workforce development. Lowell, known for hardware development and robotics, has faculty dedicated to securing technology that is produced on campus through collaborative research.
- Partnerships with the military are also a priority at UMass Lowell. Since 2014, 93 students from Hanscom Air Force Base have completed the Graduate Certificate in Network Security (funded by MassDevelopment and expanded to include a cyber project management program).
- UMass Lowell is also leading the way with a new workforce training program focused on cybersecurity. The training program, developed by professor and chief information security officer Larry Wilson, is based on the cybersecurity framework issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in response to a 2013 executive order issued by then-President Barack Obama to protect the nation’s technology infrastructure.
- Through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the Advanced Cyber Security Center, UMass has partnered with the Commonwealth to address cybersecurity needs across campuses, organizations, industry and government.
“UMass is proud to take a leadership role in this field that is so critical to our national security,” said President Meehan. “We will continue to advance our cybersecurity education, research and workforce development initiatives to support the Commonwealth’s innovation economy and the nation as a whole.”