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The National Security Agency has awarded Cal State San Bernardino’s Cybersecurity Center a $3 million grant to build up cyber talent in the state – specifically in the inland region – through a variety of approaches, including apprenticeships, and to bring more cyber employers to the area.

The NSA grant, which is considered an economic development program, will help fund the center’s efforts to increase the cyber workforce by encouraging students to consider careers in the cybersecurity field. The project is in partnership with the Riverside Community College District’s LAUNCH Apprenticeship Network, San Bernardino County Schools, and the company Tomorrow’s Talent.

“Our goal is to ensure that students in high school, community college and four-year institutions have a direct path into the cyber apprenticeship pipeline as well as internships and, ultimately, jobs,” said Tony Coulson, executive director of the CSUSB Cybersecurity Center and a professor of information decision sciences in the university’s Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration.

With the increase of students in the cyber field, the project will also work to grow the number of employers in the Inland Empire to create and increase job opportunities by enticing companies to the region and matching them up with the cyber workforce, Coulson said.

The NSA apprenticeship grant is part of the center’s ongoing work to enhance cyber studies and programs, where students can compete for scholarships, attend national conferences and do research on issues involving cybersecurity, Coulson said.

The Cybersecurity Center has been designated as a Cybersecurity Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the NSA since 2008. Last year the center was named the Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (CAE-C) Community National Center by the NSA, which selected the center for a $10.5 million grant and directed the university to be a leader of the agency’s core workforce development initiative, the Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cybersecurity Community.

The Cybersecurity Center has from 2010-2020 brought in more than $32 million worth of grant-sponsored programs from entities that include the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), the NSA, the Department of Defense, the National Cybersecurity Training and Education (NCyTE) Center, and the National Science Foundation.