Colleges tapped by Defense Department-directed agency come from 34 states and the District of Columbia

The U.S. Cyber Command on Wednesday named Norwich University one of 84 new college and university partners for its Academic Engagement Network.

In a statement, the Cyber Command, one of 11 unified Defense Department combatant commands, said the network will support future workforce, applied cyber-research, applied analytics and strategy initiatives. Cyber Command Executive Director David Frederick hosted a virtual event Thursday to formally invite the new partners.

The Cyber Command unifies cyberspace operations, strengthens cyberspace capabilities and integrates cyberexpertise. The Command defends the Defense Department Information Network, supports combatant commanders for worldwide mission execution and strengthens the nation’s ability to withstand and respond to cyberattacks.

The Academic Engagement Network’s partners consist of four military service academies, four military war and staff colleges, 69 universities, 13 community colleges and nine minority-serving institutions.

In a statement, the command said the Academic Engagement Network’s partners consist of four military service academies, four military war and staff colleges, 69 universities, 13 community colleges and nine minority-serving institutions from 34 states and the District of Columbia. The full list wasn’t released, although some schools, including Virginia Tech University, Kansas State University, Loyola University Chicago, the Illinois Institute of Technology and Fayetteville Community College have identified themselves as partners.

The network aims to create a robust and accessible pool of qualified cyberprofessionals, the command said. The Cyber Command, aka Cybercomm, will offer capstone mentorships starting in fall 2022 and will sponsor recruiting programs, internships and fellowships for network members. The command will also invite members to webinars on technical and nontechnical national cybersecurity problems and inform them on Defense Department cyberspace programs.

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The U.S. Cyber Command’s Academic Engagement Network will help the Defense Department draw and keep cybersecurity talent, perhaps including these Norwich University cybersecurity majors. (Photo by Mark Collier/Norwich University.)

“Cyber Command’s goal for the (Academic Engagement Network) is to strengthen our relationships and communication with these participating institutions,” Frederick said. “This will improve and sustain our efforts to meet cyberspace educational requirements and workforce needs.”

As SC Media, a cyberprofessionals news website reported, the network will help the Defense Department’s push to draw and keep cybersecurity talent, a recent struggle. SC Media added that network formed as President Joe Biden in December signed a defense authorization bill ordering the Defense Department to develop a pilot program to train Pentagon hiring offices to better attract and keep technical talent.

Developing and keeping cybersecurity talent has gained urgency as China has advanced technologically quickly and widely. The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit Washington, D.C., research group, last month reported that technological advancement has raised concerns about the United States’ national security and economic competitiveness.

“The U.S. government needs to build partnerships with the private sector, academia, and non-governmental organizations to improve its ability to deliver technological solutions to key challenges,” 13 Brookings researchers wrote. “It should also work with international partners to coordinate on export control, standard-setting, and directing investments toward common strategic objectives.”

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