K-20 Cybersecurity Workforce Pipeline

On July 10, 2014, Norfolk State University proposed a collaborative effort among thirteen colleges and universities, one public school district, two national laboratories, and a DOD facility to develop a K-20 pipeline for the cybersecurity workforce. The established goal was “to produce future employees specifically trained to address realistic security problems experienced by NNSA laboratories in particular, and U.S. government agencies and the private industry in general.”

The consortium is specifically charged to :

  1. Identify students at an early age and engage them in cybersecurity activities

  2. Provide scholarship support for undergraduate and graduate students

  3. Provide summer internships to students to expose them to the work environment at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR)
    and provide students year-around mentorship by SNL, LLNL and SPAWAR personnel

  4. Establish a seamless hiring process at SNL, LLNL, and SPAWAR; and provide awareness of th cybersecurity field to K-12 students, guidance counselors, and teachers in the Charleston County School District (CCSD) in South Carolina and other local school districts.

Project Motivation:

As the threat of cyber terrorism and cyber espionage continues to grow, so has the demand for trained cybersecurity professionals. This has resulted in a serious shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the private and public sectors. The shortage of qualified professionals eligible for cybersecurity positions across U.S. government agencies and their research laboratories (including the NNSA laboratories) is especially severe, as evidenced by recent government reports, initiatives (e.g., the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education) and congressional hearings. Moreover, Dr. Ben Cook from SNL and other industry professionals have recognized a gap in the cybersecurity training received by students and the prerequisite skills needed by SNL and other government agencies to support mission-critical operational and research jobs. This education gap, if allowed to persist, will result in a continuing shortage of cybersecurity workers or in large expenditures by employers as they attempt to retrain these employees. Addressing this gap and broadening the participation of minority students in cybersecurity-related disciplines are the major focus of this proposal. In order to meet the demand for trained cybersecurity professionals, there is a need to engage students at an early age. As such, it is critical to make students cybersecurity-aware during the K-12 years. There is a need to teach relevant materials to undergraduate and graduate students during the K13-20 years. It is essential to expose students to the work environment while they are pursuing their degrees. There is a need for students to have mentorships from facilities like SNL and LLNL.

Goals,Objectives, and Outcomes:

The principal goal of the project is to establish a world-class research, education, and workforce development program that combines the strengths of HBCUs and national laboratories to create a K-20 pipeline of students to participate in cybersecurity and related fields.


The project goal is established through objectives in five specific categories. A common thread in each category is partnership activities with the national laboratories.

1. Build consortium and institutional capacity in cybersecurity 2. Develop and implement education and training programs for K13-20 3. Conduct cybersecurity related research 4. Sponsor workforce development initiatives 5. Establish government, corporate, and educational partnerships
  • Establish new consortium teaching labs
  • Upgrade existing laboratories
  • Hire new faculty and staff
  • Introduce program sustainability measures
  • Provide financial support to faculty and students
  • Share expertise and resources across the consortium
  • Employ National laboratory partnership activities for capacity building
  • Provide technical guidance to the consortium and its governing board
  • Provide consortium development advice as needed
 Create new courses and curricula
 Develop articulation agreements between consortium partners
 Provide education and research training for undergraduate and graduate students
 Employ National laboratory partnership activities for education and training
 Provide input and oversight (if desired) of coordination of HBCU training involving students and in development of evaluation and metrics
 Enhance faculty research and scholarly activities
 Provide professional development for faculty
 Employ National laboratory partnership activities for activities for research and development
 Host faculty researchers at the labs
 Provide K-12 outreach and pipeline development
 Provide K-12 teacher training and education
 Develop and implement training programs
 Employ National laboratory partnership activities for workforce development
 Host student interns at the labs
 Provide advice on K-12 STEM development and activities
 Participate in building cybersecurity awareness to students, faculty, parents, and the community
 Conduct collaborative research and development with the national labs and industry
 Establish federal and corporate K-20 partnerships
 Employ National laboratory partnership activities for government, corporate, and educational partnerships
 Help foster additional partnerships