The Army Reserve is turning to the University of Washington Tacoma’s cybersecurity program for help in training its part-time soldiers to battle in the digital realm.
The campus last week was named as one of six colleges participating in a new Army Reserve partnership that’s intended to develop a pipeline of soldiers who can protect government networks from cyber attacks.
The Army Reserve and college officials are touting the agreement as mutually beneficial. The college stands to gain new students, the Army gets help filling a critical skills gap and Reservists can benefit from a program that will train them for rewarding careers in the private sector.
“The power of the Army Reserve is matching civilian professional skills with their military careers,” said Lt. Gen. Jeff Talley, chief of the Army Reserve, in a news release. “This is a powerful and effective way to maintain soldiers’ advanced skills demanded by the Army and (the Defense Department).”
UWT launched a cybersecurity program in 2013 partly in response to suggestion from the Washington Air National Guard. The Guard hosts a cybersecurity unit at Camp Murray that draws from the Puget Sound region’s technology sector for its citizen airmen.
The UWT program now accepts 25 to 30 students each year and could double as a result of the new Reserve partnership, said the program’s director, Barbara Endicott-Popovsky. The pace of the growth will depend on how soon the partnership can obtain funding for scholarships.
About half of the students enrolled in the UWT program today have military backgrounds, she said. They’re well-prepared for careers in cybersecurity because their military training teaches them that “You can never assume anything,” she said.
The other colleges in the partnership are George Mason University, University of Texas at San Antonio, Norwich University, University of Colorado – Colorado Springs and Drexel University. Endicott-Popovsky said they’ll work together in developing the Reserve program.
“We’ve heard it from White House and the Defense Department that there’s a shortage of qualified workers to meet the needs out there in cybersecurity and everybody seems to agree that veterans are ideal for this work,” said UWT spokesman Mike Wark.