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August 5, 2015

Cybersecurity Grant Promotes Smoother Progress from Community College to UMass Boston

  • Boston

Citing the growing demand for cybersecurity-related education in today’s job market, the Department of Higher Education recently awarded UMass Boston and Broadening Advanced Technological Education Connections (BATEC) a $195,735 cybersecurity collaboration grant. BATEC is a research unit based in theCollege of Advancing and Professional Studies at UMass Boston.

The grant will enable UMass Boston and area community colleges to collaborate in building programs that facilitate educational pathways for students in community colleges to pursue baccalaureates in the field of cybersecurity.

Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago stated in the award letter that UMass Boston and BATEC's proposal  “overwhelmingly best met the criteria” of the cybersecurity collaboration grant program, which enacts recommendations of the Technology Talent Workforce Development Plan endorsed by the Board of Higher Education in 2014.

The stated goal of the Department of Higher Education’s request for proposal was “to support a more networked system of campuses working in this area at both a two and four year level, and to leverage faculty talent and institutional resources among peer institutions.”

“The proposal from UMass Boston and BATEC in partnership with Bunker Hill Community College, Middlesex Community, MassBay Community College, and Quinsigamond Community College represents exactly the type of effort we sought to support through this RFP,” said Christine Williams, Associate Director of Workforce Development for the Department of Higher Education. “It represents a focused project which seeks to leverage work at multiple campuses as a way to build capacity and to a clear two year to four year pathway.  And this program growth, cybersecurity specifically, also means that more students will be prepared to work in one of the Commonwealth’s most critical areas of talent need.”

In their plan, BATEC aims to coordinate stackable certificates and degree options through Bunker Hill Community College, MassBay Community College, Middlesex Community College, Quinsigamond Community College, and UMass Boston.

BATEC estimates at least 150 students will be enrolled in aligned courses under the plan during the 2015-2016 academic year, and up to 400 students will be enrolled by the following fall. Courses will be developed primarily for on-campus delivery, but ultimately will include a hybrid of online courses as enrollment grows.

“The CyberSecurity Collaborative Grant Initiative represents an exciting opportunity for BATEC and UMass Boston to accelerate the development and implementation of a stackable academic pathway in the field of CyberSecurity on our campus and at our partnering community colleges,” said Deborah Boisvert, Principal Investigator and Executive Director of BATEC.

The proposed curriculum also will align with the National Initiative for CyberSecurity Education (NICE), an educational framework published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology that represents input and consensus among 20 federal agencies.

In speaking about the work of BATEC, Philip DiSalvio, dean of the College of Advancing and Professional Studies states, "With national projections pointing to increased need for cybersecurity professionals, BATEC's work continues to make significant contributions to the training and development of today's workforce and is an important part of UMass Boston's efforts to provide higher education access and opportunities to the citizens of the Commonwealth."