Cyber educationNew program to educate next generation of U.S. cybersecurity specialists

Published 12 June 2012

University of Maryland and Northrop Grumman create a cybersecurity honors program for undergraduates; the program, Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES), will immerse undergraduate students in all aspects of the field to meet growing manpower needs in the nation and the State of Maryland

ACES program will boost training of next-generation specialists // Source:

The University of Maryland and the Northrop Grumman Corporation will launch an honors program designed to educate what both organization describe as a new generation of advanced cybersecurity professionals. The program, Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES), will immerse undergraduate students in all aspects of the field to meet growing manpower needs in the nation and the State of Maryland.

ACES will engage a talented, diverse group of students — majors in computer science, engineering, business, public policy, and the social sciences — in an intensive living-learning environment that focuses on the multifaceted aspects of cybersecurity and develops team-building skills. Students will take on an advanced, cross-disciplinary curriculum developed through industry consultation, and will interact directly with industry and government cybersecurity mentors.

Students enrolled in the program will have the option of interning with Northrop Grumman and preparing for security clearance. ACES aims to produce skilled, experienced cybersecurity leaders sought by corporate and government organizations.

Northrop Grumman will provide a grant of $1.1 million to launch the program, which will begin in the fall of 2013, and support it for an additional two years. The University of Maryland will match that amount.

The ACES Program will serve as an inaugural Regional Workforce Project of the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), of which University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. (“Brit”) Kirwan is chair, and Northrop Grumman chairman, CEO, and president Wes Bush is vice chair.

Finding employees prepared to take on complex cybersecurity issues is a major challenge for corporations and government agencies. Northrop Grumman’s Wes Bush said, “We are fully committed to developing solutions to help eliminate the nation’s shortage of critical STEM-educated talent and by partnering with the University of Maryland, we will address workforce challenges in the increasingly important field of cybersecurity. The university has an outstanding track record for developing innovative educational programs to answer real-world needs, excellent research capabilities through its Maryland Cybersecurity Center, and close relationships with the many federal agencies and corporations in the Washington, D.C., area likewise concerned about cybersecurity.”

The need for STEM professionals throughout the United States is critical and partnerships with industry leaders represent one of the most effective approaches we can take to enhance STEM education while meeting STEM workforce needs,” stated Kirwan. “The University System of Maryland and Northrop Grumman have been working together to address our mutual challenges. As Chair of BHEF, I believe this new Industry-Higher Education partnership model can replicate the success we have seen in Maryland across the U.S. These regional projects represent innovative, collaborative approaches enabling us to get to solutions in order to tackle our nation’s toughest workforce challenges.”

ACES will consist of an intensive curriculum, which will include general cybersecurity offerings, as well as a variety of other topics, including cybersecurity forensics, reverse engineering, secure coding, criminology, and law and public policy. In year-long capstone courses, teams of seniors will apply their knowledge and skills in solving complex cybersecurity problems. Summer internships will augment coursework with real-world projects and develop a pipeline of talented students. Throughout, Northrop Grumman will provide guest lecturers, participate, in an industry advisory board, pose real-world problems for students to solve, and provide advisors and mentors for capstone projects.

The ACES program is slated to accept its first students at the College Park campus in fall 2013. Over time, through distance education programs, online course offerings, transfer of students, and competitions, universities across the University System of Maryland will participate in the program.