GRCC partnering with Davenport University on a five-year, $4 million NSF grant to train next generation of cybersecurity experts

Sept. 19, 2019, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Community College is partnering with Davenport University on a five-year, $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to train and educate the nation’s next generation of cybersecurity experts.

Andrew Rozema, GRCC’s Computer Information Systems department head, and Davenport’s Lonnie Decker and Mark McKinnon will lead the program. It will provide 28 students with scholarships to cover tuition and education-related fees and living costs. Graduates are guaranteed a full-time cybersecurity role at a government entity.

“Collaborating with community partners creates more opportunities for our students to gain in-demand skills in growing and evolving fields, including cybersecurity,” GRCC President Bill Pink said. “We’re proud to be a partner with the National Science Foundation and Davenport University – and also our local high schools to inspire the students of the future.”

An estimated 300,000 cybersecurity jobs will remain unfilled across the country according to cyberseek.org. In the last year, the United States has seen an 11 percent increase in security breaches, according to the 2019 Cybercrime Study conducted by Accenture. 

“With a large number of open positions and growing security attacks, the need to strengthen and address the cybersecurity talent pipeline is more important than ever,” said Dr. Richard Pappas, president of Davenport University. “This grant validates the quality education Davenport University provides and the confidence the federal government has in our ability to deliver the talent needed to address one of our nation’s most pressing issues in cybersecurity.”

The scholarship covers the costs of a student’s junior or senior year at Davenport University. It also extends coverage to sophomores at GRCC.

GRCC is one of two Michigan community colleges in 2018 designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. 

As part of the program, participating students mentor local high school students looking to pursue a career in cybersecurity. Additionally, students will travel to a national cybersecurity conference and complete a paid summer internship with a federal, state, local or tribal government organization to further their learning in the cybersecurity field.

“Programs like this, that support students in their career and educational pathways, lend a great hand to helping reach our goal of 60 percent of Michigan high school graduates earning a credential or degree after high school by 2030,” said Doug Ross, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s advisor on economic prosperity. “And when students are supported on a path to earn these credentials, employers gain a highly-skilled talent pool to fill the 545,000 jobs coming open through 2026, and the state grows closer to filling the skills gap – it’s a win-win.”

Those interested in learning more about the scholarship may visit davenport.edu/cybersecurity.

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1921840. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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