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Suffolk Creates New Cybersecurity Degree, Awarded $699,489 Grant
The National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program has awarded Suffolk County Community College a $699,486 grant that will be used to create a new cybersecurity degree and train workers in sustainable energy and cybersecurity. The Suffolk County Legislature voted to accept and appropriate the grant on behalf of the county and college on Tuesday June 2.
The Leading Innovation through Green High-Tech Engineering, Sustainability & Security project (LIGHTES2) will create a new degree – Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S) in Cybersecurity -- at Suffolk County Community College and components of the program will be integral to programming at the college’s soon-to-be-built Renewable Energy and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Center on the Michael J. Grant Campus in Brentwood.
“The project meets several strategic goals of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council,” said Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Shaun L. McKay, who was appointed by Governor Cuomo to the council.
McKay explained that the new grant will help the college:
- increase the number of degrees in STEM disciplines
- forge partnerships between industry, research institutes, business, government, schools and universities to provide job pathways in STEM
- educate workers to enable the integration of green technologies into new construction and support the development of green retrofitting enterprises, and
- support the shift to local renewable energy sources, including smart grid for the region.
McKay said that a project advisory board will be composed of representatives from the College’s industry partners including Custom Computer Specialists, Inc. and Cisco Systems, Inc., along with Stony Brook University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, the New York State Department of Labor, Suffolk County, and the Long Island STEM Hub Regional Information Technology and Energy & Environment councils.
The advisory council will advise the college about workforce needs and regional opportunities and priorities. The program will also seek out and recruit returning veterans.
The program, McKay said, will also engage future learners by involving high school STEM teachers in sustainability and cybersecurity-related summer workshops. The workshops will be aligned and offered with existing National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM and New York State-funded pre-college and college STEM enrichment programs and will strengthen and expand the STEM pipeline into the new cybersecurity and existing sustainable energy technology engineering programs.
“The NSF Cybersecurity grant will support us in creating pathways for high school students to enter a high technology field, those in industry to retrain / advance in cybersecurity and a program that unites high schools, Suffolk Community College, Industry and Universities in cybersecurity education. This is a local, national and world wide need,” said Suffolk’s Academic Chair; Associate Professor of Engineering Science and Electrical Technology Peter Maritato.“LIGHTES2 will give local college students, high school students and teachers a strong foundation in the critical fields of cybersecurity and renewable energy, along with exploring the emerging symbiosis between the two areas,” said Suffolk County Community College Associate Dean for Continuing Education and LIGHTES2 Co-Principal Investigator Nina Leonhardt.
The program will help existing and new students by including stacked certifications. Stacking allows students to enter and exit the program flexibly to obtain certifications by “stacking” certifications towards a degree. A student can also complete the program traditionally and graduate after two years with a degree and the certifications.
“Our new program represents another important step in achieving Suffolk County Community College’s goal of developing the quality education necessary to produce advanced technical graduates capable of strengthening the nation’s workforce in the STEM fields,” McKay concluded.