Livermore Lab, Sandia partnering in cybersecurity consortium

$25 million grant connects labs with 13 black colleges in project

With a $25 million grant, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories will work with 13 historically black colleges and universities and the Charleston (S.C.) County school district as partners in a Cybersecurity Workforce Pipeline Consortium to help solve pressing and challenging cybersecurity problems.

The two Livermore laboratories will handle the program under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

The program will include anticipating future cybersecurity challenges and assisting in developing talent for a cyber workforce.

The consortium was established by the agency's Minority Serving Institutions Partnerships Program in order to create an "under-represented talent pipeline" from minority-serving institutions to DOE laboratories and plants to help strengthen cybersecurity expertise.

The five-year partnership will give students the depth and hands-on training they might not get if enrolled in a typical computer science or cybersecurity program. The educational enrichment will ensure that students participating in the consortium will develop strong skills and will be able to fill opportunities within the national laboratories and throughout the nation.

The laboratories will be active participants by providing technical expertise and guidance on curriculum in math, computer science and cybersecurity, and will provide students with mentors, resources, support and on-the-job training in a stimulating work environment.

Livermore Lab Director Bill Goldstein attended the signing of the agreement last Friday at the White House and hosted by the DOE along with Tony Baylis, director of the Office of Strategic Diversity & Inclusion Programs at the lab.

Goldstein moderated a panel that highlighted personal stories, experiences and perspectives from across the pipeline of students to employers on potential for the DOE-historically black colleges and universities cybersecurity education consortium. Also there was Livermore Lab researcher Celeste Matarazzo, who is the program manager of the Cyber Defenders program, where the students will be placed.

"Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and many other organizations have a considerable and growing need for expertise in cybersecurity," Goldstein said. "We need this expertise not only to protect the security of our own computer systems, but also because it is an area where our sponsors — the Department of Energy and a variety of other government agencies — expect our help.

"A workforce that is highly skilled in computer science and cybersecurity is essential," he added. "To ensure that we have a pipeline that provides continued excellence in this area, we have been engaged in helping train and in providing experience for the next generation of cybersecurity experts through activities such as our Cyber Defenders program."

The program allows interns from historically black colleges and universities to develop skills in areas such as intrusion detection and prevention, network monitoring, anomaly detection, machine learning, cyber assurance (plans and policy), vulnerability assessment, forensics, malware analysis, reverse engineering cyber assurance, training, and security operations.

Working closely with their Livermore Lab mentors, students complete a research project and share their results through a presentation and at a poster session. The students experience the challenges of working on real world problems and build a professional network that will benefit them throughout their career.

Goldstein added:

"We are very excited about the outstanding opportunity that this new program represents. To solve the pressing and challenging cybersecurity problems that face us, we will require a diverse workforce — including diversity in experience, point of view and backgrounds — to help us meet our mission needs and anticipate future challenges.

"This program is a win-win for all involve. The laboratories will be able to identify and cultivate diverse talent early for DOE mission areas and student participants will gain exposure to career opportunities at the DOE/NNSA sites."

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