NSA Grants Boost University's Cyber Academy

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The University of North Georgia (UNG) has grown its cybersecurity training program after receiving funding from the National Security Agency (NSA). 

UNG, which has campuses in Blue Ridge, Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville, and Oconee, was awarded two grants totaling $265,000 by the NSA.

The university will use the money to provide free cybersecurity instruction through two different avenues: the GenCyber Warrior Academy and the Advancing GenCyber Education for North Georgia Teachers (AGENTs) of Change camp.

Both training programs are in-person learning opportunities in the Pennington Military Leadership Center on UNG’s Dahlonega Campus.

The first initiative provides cybersecurity instruction to high school students, while the second delivers cybersecurity training to middle or high school teachers. 

Next summer, in its sixth year of operation, the annual GenCyber Warrior Academy will host 40 high school students from June 5–11. AGENTs of Change, which will run for the second time from June 27–July 1, will give 24 teachers more than 30 hours of cyber and computer science professional development.

For the first time in 2022, UNG faculty and staff will provide additional monthly pre-academy instruction sessions that will start in January and post-camp guidance that will extend into October. 

This increase in tuition and learning materials was made possible through the record-breaking grants from the NSA.

“The new year-round format gives us an opportunity to share more content and background to get everybody up to the same level,” said Dr. Bryson Payne, professor of computer science at UNG and coordinator of the university’s cyber programs.

“Before they come to camp, they’ll already have done some valuable hands-on activities. The post-camp activities will help them keep their skills sharp.”

Dr. Lindsay Linsky, associate professor of middle grades education and assistant director of UNG’s Center for Teaching, Learning and Leadership, said the AGENTs of Change gave teachers an important opportunity. 

“This may be one of their first chances to learn about how to teach cyber,” said Linsky. “There’s a need for more teachers to understand what cybersecurity is and how to teach it ethically to their students.”

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