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The Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE) organization has launched a cybersecurity talent development collaboration with Abbott, Microsoft, and Raytheon Technologies to support historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)-accredited engineering schools.

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“Our hope is that the initiative will enhance cybersecurity programming at HBCUs, helping connect students, especially African-American students, with opportunities to pursue cybersecurity certifications and degrees,” said Veronica L. Nelson, AMIE’s executive director. “This effort couldn’t come at a more critical time. The U.S. greatly needs skilled cybersecurity workers. HBCU Engineering Schools represent a rich pipeline of untapped, diverse talent.”

AMIE is a nonprofit coalition of corporations, government agencies, and the 15 ABET-accredited HBCU Schools of Engineering. Since 1992, AMIE’s commitment to fostering partnerships that attract, develop, recruit and graduate minorities in engineering has been its ongoing focus.

Currently, the HBCU Cybersecurity Industry Initiative has four HBCUs in the pilot program. They are Hampton University, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University, and Virginia State University.

The pilot will run through the end of 2022 with the goal of extending the initiative to the remaining ABET-accredited HBCUs: Alabama A&M, Florida A&M, Howard, Jackson State, Morgan State, Norfolk State, Southern University, Tennessee State, Tuskegee, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the University of the District of Columbia.

Professionals from Abbott, Microsoft, and Raytheon Technologies will be guest lecturers, participate in mentoring programs and meet with faculty to better understand existing strengths and collaborate toward educating more cybersecurity professionals to help address the nation’s talent gap.

Microsoft is providing funding and support as part of its Cybersecurity Skills Initiative. Abbott is providing funding and hosting two Prairieview A&M University cybersecurity students for intern experiences during the summer of 2022. Raytheon Technologies is providing funding and works with local students to showcase their cyber capabilities and provide opportunities for students to explore cyber careers.

“With the complete integration of Industry 4.0 or ‘smart’ technologies into so many aspects of our lives, VSU now sees almost every company we work with needing cybersecurity-trained professionals to secure their products, services, and their business operations,” said Dr. Dawit Haile, dean of the College of Engineering and Technology at Virginia State University. “This includes industries that we never would have previously considered in this context, like manufacturing, construction, and energy. VSU understands that cybersecurity skills are now part of a critical core knowledge base and we are committed to deliver a strong pipeline of students who are well-prepared in this area.”

Abbott is a global healthcare leader that helps people live more fully at all stages of life. Their ortfolio of life-changing technologies spans the spectrum of healthcare, with leading businesses and products in diagnostics, medical devices, and nutritional and branded generic medicines.

“In today’s digital-first world, skilled cybersecurity workers are critical to ensuring the safety of our enterprise as well as the products and technologies we provide people to live better, healthier lives,” said Sabina Ewing, chief information officer, Abbott. “That’s why, as a founding member of Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering, Abbott supports efforts like the HBCU Cybersecurity Industry Collaboration Initiative Pilot, which develops HBCU talent to build a diverse, innovative workforce that will meet the demands of today and tomorrow.”

Microsoft enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

“We are excited to embark on this collaboration with AMIE to broaden education in cybersecurity at HBCUs,” said Valecia Maclin, Microsoft Partner, Strategic Cloud Solutions, and AMIE board member. “The pre-eminent role that HBCUs play in graduating the best and brightest engineering talent in the U.S. coupled with our passion to extend global cybersecurity skilling is a unique collaboration and critical for the time that we are in. As part of our commitment to address America’s cybersecurity workforce shortage, we look forward to working together to create a workforce that represents the diversity of our society.”

Raytheon Technologies Corporation’s four industry-leading businesses ― Collins Aerospace Systems, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon Intelligence & Space, and Raytheon Missiles & Defense ― deliver solutions that push the boundaries in avionics, cybersecurity, directed energy, electric propulsion, hypersonics, and quantum physics. The company, formed in 2020 through the combination of Raytheon Company and the United Technologies Corporation aerospace businesses, is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts.

“Closing the enormous cybersecurity skills gap and driving diversity in our talent pipeline are critical business imperatives for our company and industry,” said Shanda Hinton, Chief Diversity Officer, Raytheon Technologies. “This alliance offers real-world education, experience, and mentorship opportunities to HBCU engineering students to help cultivate the next generation of cyber defenders.”

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