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UAH leads national coalition to advance cybersecurity education with $3.2M DOD grant

HUNTSVILLE – The University of Alabama in Huntsville is leading a four-university coalition to advance cybersecurity education through Virtual Internship and Varied Innovative Demonstrations (VIVID). This three-year program is funded by a $3.2 million grant from the Department of Defense.

UAH’s nationwide coalition includes Augusta (Ga.) University, Florida International University and the University of Arizona.

Dr. Tommy Morris (Michael Mercier/UAH)

Dr. Tommy Morris, director of the UAH Center for Cybersecurity Research and Education, is principal investigator for the coalition. Co-principal investigators are Sharon Johnson of UAH; Dr. Josh Pauli of Arizona; Dr. Michael Nowatkowski of Augusta; and Randy Pestana of  Florida International.

“The VIVID program hires interns from Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Education and Research to work side by side with experts from Redstone Arsenal, the associate’s Defense Industrial Base,” Morris said. “In doing so, this program provides a new vector for workforce development for North Alabama. The VIVID program also provides enhanced visibility for UAH and our three partners.”

The support of Alabama Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth was instrumental in the development of the UAH CCRE, Morris said.

“Huntsville is nationally recognized as a hub of cutting-edge technology and ground-breaking research, and much of that spotlight is focused on the UAH Center for Cybersecurity Research and Education, which I was proud to help create,” said Ainsworth (R-Guntersville). “In addition to developing the next generation of cybersecurity experts and innovating new techniques and technologies, this grant demonstrates that the center is also helping attract additional federal dollars, jobs and opportunities to our state.”

(VIVID Coalition)

VIVID has three key objectives involving National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C):

  • Provide an enhanced pipeline for diverse future cyber leaders through virtual paid internships to help students translate academic learning to cybersecurity practice and competency in a work role or job.
  • Increase hands-on exposure to cybersecurity techniques by developing and conducting live Red versus Blue hackathon events developed by the VIVID coalition.
  • Host the fall 2024 annual colloquium which will enhance the visibility and stature of leaders within the DOD cyber community by recognizing and communicating their programs’ successes and upcoming goals.

UAH and each of its coalition partners are either R1 or R2 universities and possess a long history of supporting DOD and government programs. Each of the coalition members brings a unique relationship with DOD agencies and military bases in its specific region.

UAH, an R1 university, works closely with the Army, Missile Defense Agency, NASA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency, Space and Missile Defense Command and Combat Capabilities Development Command at Redstone Arsenal.

Augusta University serves the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Eisenhower (formerly Fort Gordon) in Georgia.

Florida International serves the U.S. Army Garrison in Miami and the U.S. Southern Command and the U.S. Coast Guard Base in Miami Beach.

The University of Arizona serves the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) and Electronic Proving Ground (EPG) at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

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