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Moving Forward In Cybersecurity

Among the pieces of good news in the state budget recently approved in Richmond was the continuation of funding for the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, which also will benefit Old Dominion University.

Virginia's political, education and business leaders have joined forces on a plan to enhance research in cybersecurity, as well as to train more graduates to fill the growing number of openings in the field. That is particularly urgent with the arrival of the Amazon headquarters in Northern Virginia, which promises 25,000 more jobs for the Commonwealth.

Old Dominion created the Center for Cybersecurity Education and Research in 2015, long before Amazon even considered adding a location in Virginia. And we continue to sharpen and expand our program, as the need for expertise increases in this area:

In the fall, Old Dominion will begin offering a full-fledged bachelor's degree in cybersecurity. Until now, it has been offered through the interdisciplinary studies program.

Our enrollment in cyber programs has risen dramatically, and Old Dominion now has about 400 students pursuing bachelor's or master's degrees in such disciplines as cybercrime and enterprise cybersecurity.

Nearly 10 of those undergraduates, who have demonstrated financial need, are receiving four-year scholarships funded by the National Science Foundation. Nine more freshmen will receive these scholarships in the fall. In addition, 14 undergraduates are being funded by NSF to conduct cybersecurity research with faculty and industry mentors.

We have also sought to stoke the interest in cybersecurity beyond the classroom. Next week, we will send eight students to compete in the Atlantic Council's Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge in Washington. In 2016, Old Dominion created a living-learning community catering to cybersecurity students in Whitehurst Hall. That community will move to our newest residence hall, Hugo Owens House, when it opens next year, and will include cyber classrooms and a lab.

Old Dominion has extended its influence throughout the industry. We recently held a workshop on cybersecurity and artificial intelligence, attracting more than 70 participants. And we will host the two-day International Conference on Cyber Warfare and Security in March 2020. Participants will include faculty, students, contractors and military leaders.

What distinguishes our academic approach to cybersecurity is one of the hallmarks of an Old Dominion University education: a multidisciplinary approach that blends disciplines. Our students learn about subjects such as cyber law, cryptography and blockchain technology from faculty members in fields such as criminal justice, computer science and philosophy. Only by pooling our talents and strengths will we be able to address the significant cyber challenges facing our society. Old Dominion will continue to position itself as a leader in that effort.

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