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TCC joins new Virginia Tech cyber education initiative

Tidewater Community College is working with eight other public colleges and universities across Virginia to create a state-of-the-art platform for cybersecurity education.

Led by Virginia Tech, the Virginia Cyber Range will provide advanced cybersecurity training exercises for high school and college students and revolutionize cybersecurity education within the Commonwealth.

Cybersecurity is one of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s top priorities, with the goal of positioning Virginia as a leading source of cybersecurity expertise in the nation.

The commonwealth is also taking an important step to develop the workforce needed to keep data and systems safe from cyber threats.

“Cybersecurity is a key driver for the New Virginia Economy and we must ensure that Virginia has a pipeline of industry-ready cyber talent if we are going to be competitive,” said Gov. McAuliffe, speaking at the Virginia Cyber Physical Systems Summit in Newport News on Sept. 21.

As online attacks on financial, research and consumer data become more sophisticated and unpredictable, the need for leaders and innovators in the field of cybersecurity becomes ever more urgent.

“The Virginia Cyber Range provides a cutting edge environment where students can hone their cyber skills,” Gov. McAuliffe said.

A demonstration of Cyber Range capabilities was provided at the summit. A limited number of classes will be supported beginning in January.

The participating institutions were selected based on their federal designation as centers of academic excellence in cyber education or digital forensics.

“It is exciting to see the Virginia cyber centers of excellence come together to create a hands-on cyber training environment that will enable students across the commonwealth to obtain the skills they need to move directly into the workforce,” said Karen Jackson, Virginia’s secretary of technology. 

Robert Guess, director of TCC’s Cyber Center, is serving on the executive committee for the project. “As a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, we’re dedicated to providing the highest quality education for our students to prepare them to protect regional, state and national interests,” he said.

The project’s initial focus will be on serving community colleges and four-year institutions with offerings that will include modules for use in college courses, laboratory exercises and projects, and realistic tactical cybersecurity trials that can supplement existing courses.

Students will gain knowledge of

  • digital forensics
  • network defense
  • how to secure critical infrastructure
  • malware detection
  • usability and privacy issues
  • and secure coding practices.

The project is expected to evolve to also serve K-12 students and other groups in Virginia.

The Cyber Range will largely operate as a virtual center. Offerings will be crafted and hosted in the “cloud,” where they can be accessed by participating schools and agencies. This approach will allow for easy customization, scalability and responsiveness, while minimizing costs.

The Virginia Cyber Range brings together faculty from Virginia Tech; George Mason, James Madison, Longwood, Norfolk State and Radford universities; and three community colleges, TCC, Lord Fairfax and Northern Virginia.

Virginia Tech’s David Raymond, director of the Virginia Cyber Range, said, “We are excited to build an innovative, statewide resource that will be a game-changer for cybersecurity education across the commonwealth.

“I am honored to work with the partner institutions to chart the way forward for this important project.”

Photo courtesy of Jefferson Lab