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$500,000 NSF grant brings cybersecurity certification to rural, military-connected students

The University of Charleston, BridgeValley Community & Technical College and Southern West Virginia Community & Technical College have been awarded more than $500,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Advanced Technological Education initiative.

The grant will enable these partner schools to offer a four-course, two-semester Security Analysis (SA) Certificate program to high school students, veterans or military-connected students in rural or economically depressed southern counties.

Dr. Adam Beatty, Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director of Cybersecurity at the University of Charleston will collaborate with Bob Hayton, Chair of the Computer and Technology Department at BridgeValley and Matt Payne, Southern’s Information Technology Program Coordinator on the project.

“We have a great opportunity to train our West Virginia citizens to enter one of the most in-demand career areas due to everyone’s dedication to this collaborative effort,” said Beatty.

Certificate holders can continue at these institutions to earn a degree in cybersecurity or use their learning to enter the field, where an industry estimated 3.5 million high-paying jobs will be open by 2025.

“The goal of this project is to grow a capable and trained workforce of cyber specialists with security abilities and skills,” said Hayton. “This is vital to security within West Virginia and across the country.”

The project will do more than create the SA certificate program. The initiative will also tap into a vast network of hiring organizations, educational groups and businesses to create a cybersecurity education and jobs pipeline in the Mountain State and beyond.

The project team will work with industry partners to streamline recruitment and improve academic offerings to meet industry needs. Partnerships with organizations such as First2 Network and Tech Connect West Virginia will help to connect students to the program and to employers. Evaluations of the project will also allow the team to develop best practices for cybersecurity training and share those findings with technical, industrial and military networks.

The certificate program will be offered both in-seat and online. Interested students should contact admission at each of the partnering institutions to apply.

Businesses or organizations who would like to become involved with the project can contact Dr. Adam Beatty at [email protected] or Bob Hayton at [email protected].


About BridgeValley Community and Technical College

BridgeValley Community and Technical College promotes student success, prepares a skilled workforce, and builds tomorrow’s leaders by providing access to quality higher education. BridgeValley Community and Technical College is the college of opportunity for a diverse learner population, offering leading-edge technology, innovative ideas, and dynamic service to our students and our communities.

BridgeValley Community and Technical College was founded on March 20, 2014, and serves a seven-county region including Fayette, Kanawha, Clay, Putnam, Cabell, Mason, and Wayne counties. The college operates two campuses in Montgomery and South Charleston, along with the addition of the Advanced Technology Center. BridgeValley Community and Technical College is a public institution of higher education independently accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges and a member of the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia.

Promoting student success, preparing a skilled workforce, and building tomorrow’s leaders.

About University of Charleston

Founded in 1888, the University of Charleston is a private, non-profit university focused on educating each student for a life of productive work, enlightened living, and community involvement. Offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in the arts and sciences, business and healthcare, UC serves a diverse student population representing over 49 states, all 55 West Virginia counties and 53 countries.

About Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College

Established in 1971, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College is an independently accredited, comprehensive community college that provides accessible, affordable, quality education and training to promote the success for those it serves. With campuses in Mount Gay, Foster, Hamlin, Williamson, and Saulsville, West Virginia, Southern offer more than 35 associate degrees, certificates, and skill sets in a wide range of fields, enabling graduates to enter a new industry, advance their career, or seamlessly matriculate into partner institutions to continue their education.