Fayetteville State University is launching a new program that will train veterans in the area of cybersecurity.
The Cybersecurity Academy, which starts March 17, will target service members who are transitioning to civil careers.
University officials say the academy will help address the growing need for more cybersecurity professionals. There is a shortage of about 40,000 cybersecurity professionals in the country, said Curtis Charles, executive director of the FSU Center for Defense and Homeland Security.
"How do you replace the workforce in national security? We know that the U.S. cannot outsource national security," Charles said. "... We want to be able to fulfill that workforce need that no one else is filling."
FSU, University of Maryland-Baltimore County and Operation PAVE representatives will host an open house Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in Room 134 of the Center for Defense and Homeland Security. A presentation will be streamed live to military installations across the state, Charles said.
Targeting military personnel for the program was logical, Charles said. Service members are accustomed to dealing with security and situations of national risk.
The university's Center for Defense and Homeland Security is partnering with the University of Maryland-Baltimore County to develop certifications. The University of Maryland-Baltimore County has had a similar cybersecurity program since 2001, Charles said.
"They work closely with Fort Meade, which is similar to our partnership with Fort Bragg," Charles said. "We know that one university can produce enough cyber security professionals. It's a win-win partnership for us."
With the FSU program, veterans and service members will receive certifications in cyber foundations, cybersecurity, cyber operations and cyber development. Each certificate is an eight-week program. The initial class will have 22 students.
FSU also is working with the Paralyzed Veterans of Americas' Operation Paving Access for Veterans Employment (PAVE), a Washington, D.C.-based program that provides free, one-on-one vocational assistance, benefits counseling and support to veterans and their families.
Sherman Gillums Jr., director of the Operation PAVE Program, said working with the university is groundbreaking for his organization.
"Partnerships with universities have been overlooked," he said. "FSU can serve as a model."
Operation PAVE's role is to address veterans' needs, including job placement.
"We want them to be focused on getting a job instead of dealing with distractions," Gillums said.