In today's information-dominated public sphere, cybersecurity skills are at a premium. One study suggests the United States will be unable to fill 2.5 million cyber-skilled jobs this year alone. To remain relevant, NSA must compete for these exceptional, talented, and highly sought-after professionals to ensure we employ the right people to continue supporting, and growing, our crucial national cybersecurity mission set. As part of enterprise-wide efforts, NSA Colorado (NSAC) is rapidly building its academic outreach efforts along the Colorado Front Range, an area often referred to as the "silicon valley of space," and a rich, largely untapped region of skilled students, educators, and professionals.
Mr. David Luber, NSAC Director (Far Left) with CU Boulder students during their visit to NSAC
On 20 February 2018, NSAC hosted students from University of Colorado (CU) Boulder who are participating in a 16-week Hacking 4 Defense academic project, jointly sponsored by CU Boulder and NSAC. The students are currently supporting an unclassified NSA-sponsored project to identify traffic from Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This bright group of scholars have one semester to develop a prototype to solve this arduous challenge. In order to accomplish this ambitious task, the students must conduct 100 interviews throughout the semester. The students have already interviewed over 30 NSA analysts, which makes up a majority of their initial interview phase. This outstanding group academics includes a PhD candidate and a student aspiring to obtain dual-degrees in business and cybersecurity.
The students' visit began with an unclassified tour, followed by an insightful lunch with Mr. David Luber, Director of NSAC, and other NSAC personnel. The visit concluded at the collaborative space known as the "COOLER" (Colorado Outer Office: Learn Engage Relax), which is an unclassified space utilized for unclassified mission work, open meetings, and teamwork. Experts from NSAC's operational element met with the students to discuss IoT-related challenges. During this time, the students conducted interviews with the NSAC experts, which provided valuable guidance on how to continue overcoming challenges to complete their projects by the end of the academic semester. This event was a tremendous success and an enriching experience for everyone involved.
Why did NSAC do this? NSAC actively supports Academic Outreach by promoting and maintaining strong relationships with academic institutions to encourage and influence educational curriculum and activities in NSA's mission-critical areas: Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM), Intelligence Analysis, Language, and Cybersecurity. NSAC's integrated, innovative environment, and aggressive Academic Outreach growth efforts enable the site to help the enterprise continuously attract and retain the best and brightest in these critical areas. Getting today's generation interested and involved in national security is the key to NSA's ability to meet current and future challenges.