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The Next Battleground Is in the Cloud: Mason Partnership with Army Reserve Creates Pathways for Cyber Warriors

February 11, 2015

On Feb. 10, the Army Reserve Cyber Private Public Partnership Program brought together leaders of industry and academia with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to address a critical need for expertise in the cyber domain and to formally sign the Memorandum of Understanding that creates this partnership. U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Shejal Pulivarti.

On Feb. 10, the Army Reserve Cyber Private Public Partnership Program brought together leaders of industry and academia with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to address a critical need for expertise in the cyber domain and to formally sign the Memorandum of Understanding that creates this partnership. U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Shejal Pulivarti.

By Martha Bushong

A recent Government Accounting Office (GAO) study identifies cyber security as one of six federal workforce occupations facing mission-critical skills gaps—business and industry face similar shortages.

To help bridge this gap, George Mason University’s Volgenau School of Engineering is one of six top-tier universities and 12 employers partnering with the Army Reserve in a first-of-its-kind effort to create educational pathways for future cyber warriors.

“The demand for these cybersecurity professionals and cyber-experienced soldiers far outpaces the current inventory,” says Lt. Gen. Jeffery Talley, chief of the U.S. Army Reserve. “The GAO estimates that there is currently a need for 40,000 cyber security professionals just to satisfy the government’s demand. Our belief is the [Army Reserve Cyber Private Public Partnership] effort will serve as a seed to enhance these critical efforts and lessen the skilled soldiers shortage gap.”

According to Joe Martore, president and chief executive officer of George Mason’s corporate partner CALIBRE Systems Inc., the partnership introduces a great opportunity for all the participants. “The cyber initiative identifies a mandate and a forum for universities, corporations and the Army Reserve to make a significant impact in an innovative and dynamic way.”

The Army Reserve is looking to build foundational programs that support U.S. soldiers and enhance their skills, education and training to develop continuously ready cyber soldiers who can match their military and civilian careers with continuous education opportunities at top-tier regional schools.

Mason is among the universities tailoring its curriculum to address the needs of the military.

Dr. Kenneth S. Ball, dean of the Volgenau School of Engineering for George Mason University, signs the statement of support signifying the beginning of the partnership with the Army Reserve to educate and employ cyber Soldiers. U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Shejal Pulivarti

Dr. Kenneth S. Ball, dean of the Volgenau School of Engineering for George Mason University, signs the statement of support signifying the beginning of the partnership with the Army Reserve to educate and employ cyber Soldiers. U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Shejal Pulivarti.

“This partnership with the Army Reserve enhances our ability to protect the nation’s infrastructure and enhance the operational readiness of the Army,” says Kenneth Ball, dean of the Volgenau School of Engineering.

“The goal of the [Cyber P3] program is to train and educate Army Reserve Soldiers to be elite cybersecurity professionals through classroom work and field experience,” says Talley. “These schools have been chosen for their excellence in cyber security research, teaching and their experience in helping the public and private sectors address cyber security issues.”

In addition to Mason, the university partners are University of Washington, Norwich University, Drexel University, University of Colorado and University of Texas at San Antonio.

Corporate partners include Rackspace U.S. Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Microsoft Corp., Professional Project Services Inc. (Pro2Serve), Chevron Corp. and CALIBRE Systems. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also a partner in this effort.

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