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In June 2022, Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE) announced a new partnership to support cybersecurity education at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in response to the pressing need for cybersecurity professionals.

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The HBCU Cybersecurity Industry Collaboration Initiative Pilot, in collaboration with industry partners including Abbott, Microsoft, and Raytheon Technologies, seeks to enhance HBCU engineering schools’ curriculum capacity and establish them as leading national academic institutions for cybersecurity.

The initiative aims to create a resilient workforce of students who are well-prepared for the most sought-after cybersecurity careers globally.

To achieve this, the initiative will provide support such as curriculum development, research collaboration, and faculty assistance to HBCUs.

Currently, the United States has almost 600,000 open cybersecurity jobs, and globally, it is expected that 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs will be available by 2025.

AMIE hopes that the initiative will boost cybersecurity programs at HBCUs, connect students particularly African-American students with opportunities to pursue cybersecurity certifications and degrees, and provide a rich pipeline of diverse talent.

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited HBCU Schools of Engineering produce over 30% of the African-American engineers and represent less than 3% of the engineering universities in the U.S.

The pilot initiative incorporates expertise and support from Abbott, Microsoft, and Raytheon Technologies to align business needs to the pilot schools’ cybersecurity curricula and research capabilities.

The four HBCU pilot engineering schools of the now 16-member schools of the Council of HBCU Engineering Deans are Hampton University, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University, and Virginia State University.

In the pilot initiative, experts from Abbott, Microsoft, and Raytheon Technologies will provide support by serving as guest lecturers, participating in mentoring programs, and meeting with faculty to better understand existing strengths and collaborate toward educating more cybersecurity professionals to help bridge the talent gap in the nation.

Microsoft is providing funding and support as part of its Cybersecurity Skills Initiative. Abbott is funding and hosting two Prairie View A&M University cybersecurity students for customized intern experiences during the summer of 2022.

Raytheon Technologies provides funding and works with local students to showcase their cyber capabilities and provide opportunities for students to explore cyber careers.

The pilot initiative ran through the end of 2022 and is expected to extend to the remaining 11 ABET-accredited HBCU Schools of Engineering in the future, including Alabama A&M University, Florida A&M University, Howard University, Jackson State University, Morgan State University, Norfolk State University, Southern University, Tennessee State University, Tuskegee University, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and the University of the District of Columbia.

Abbott Chief Information Officer Sabina Ewing said, “We support efforts like the HBCU Cybersecurity Industry Collaboration Initiative Pilot, which develops HBCU talent to build a diverse, innovative workforce that will meet today’s and tomorrow’s demands.”

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