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Alcorn State University teams with IBM to address cybersecurity talent shortage

Alcorn will work with IBM to establish a Cybersecurity Leadership Center, giving students and faculty access to IBM training, software, and certifications at no cost.

During the National HBCU Week Conference convened by the U.S. Department of Education and the White House, Alcorn State University announced a collaboration with IBM to help establish a virtual Cybersecurity Leadership Center.

Alcorn is one of 20 schools working with IBM to create Cybersecurity Leadership Centers. In addition to six schools announced in May, Alcorn State joins Alabama A&M University, Talladega College, Tuskegee University, Edward Waters University, Florida A&M University, Albany State University, Grambling State University, Bowie State University, North Carolina Central University, Voorhees University, Texas Southern University, Norfolk State University, and West Virginia State University.

With 500,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the U.S., the need for expertise is critical: According to a recent IBM security study, insufficiently staffed organizations average $550,000 more in breach costs than those that state they are sufficiently staffed.

“We are thrilled to continue to build our relationship with IBM by expanding cutting-edge opportunities for our students and faculty in creating a campus Cybersecurity Leadership Center,” said Dr. Felecia M. Nave, president of Alcorn State University. “With the first IBM-partnered cybersecurity center at a Mississippi HBCU, it will not only help our promising students develop essential skills for the careers of tomorrow but will help the nation’s businesses meet a vital need in cyberspace.”

Through IBM’s collaboration, faculty and students at participating schools will have access to coursework, lectures, immersive training experiences, certifications, IBM cloud-hosted software, and professional development resources.

IBM will develop for each participating HBCU, a customized IBM Security Learning Academy portal — an IBM client offering — including courses designed to help the university enhance its cybersecurity education portfolio. In addition, IBM will continue to give access to IBM’s SkillsBuild. HBCU faculty and students will have an opportunity to benefit from IBM Security’s Command Center, through which they can experience a highly realistic, simulated cyberattack, designed to prepare and train them on response techniques. Moreover, HBCUs’ faculty will have access to consultation sessions with IBM technical personnel on cybersecurity. Also, IBM will provide faculty and students with access to multiple IBM Security premier enterprise security products hosted in the IBM Cloud, along with professional development forums.

“Collaborations between academia and the private sector can help students prepare for success. That’s especially true for HBCUs because their mission is so vital,” said Justina Nixon-Saintil, vice president, IBM Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG. “The Cybersecurity Leadership Centers we’re co-creating with Historically Black College and Universities epitomize our commitment to the Black community and STEM education; it also builds on our pledge to train 150,000 people in cybersecurity over three years.”