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We will ensure the resulting coalition has permanency and forges a collaborative mechanism through which dynamically evolving educational content and practical impact can be regionally delivered.

Leveraging foundational and applied research, tools, and commercial capabilities will provide practical solutions, fill identified gaps in workforce development and educational curricula, and serve as a platform by which our nation’s critical needs can be more fully addressed.

To better understand the need for education and training programs, it is important to understand what currently exists and why it is failing us.

Today, there is a mixture of academic, professional training, and hands-on job education and training programs, as well as a small number of professional certifications. For example, the Department of Energy (DOE) previously undertook an effort called the Secure Power System Professional (SPSP) to map what skills a power system professional must have to understand the emerging cybersecurity needs. There is also the SANS Institute’s Global Industrial Cybersecurity Professional (GICSP) certification that aims to bridge the gap between Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) and provide the base knowledge necessary to operate broadly in the OT domain. The NCAE-C program has further developed specific KUs, including focus areas targeting ICS, but with little specificity for application. This coalition has the potential to create an active and far more effective ecosystem of educational design and practice.

Our approach will permanently build the institutional, industrial, governmental, and educational scaffolding for workforce skillset creation using a needs-driven and solutions-oriented approach to education and training.

To accomplish this the coalition must focus on building an ecosystem where the participants can apply their knowledge and skills to the defense of CPSCI. The two primary components of this ecosystem are: 1) the defense of the CPSCI; and, 2) the education and training necessary to carry out the first component. As a result, the coalition will aid in the development of a trained and capable workforce.

Once the coalition is formed, and stakeholder metrics are documented, we plan to focus on the collaborative development of educational material and experiential-focused learning environment for the energy infrastructure domain, a critical cyber-physical infrastructure.

Our team will develop modular educational material to facilitate broad adoption, adaptation, and reuse within other cyber-physical system and ICS domains.

The ISU and UIUC-formed regional coalition is comprised of a broad range of midwestern stakeholders (including asset owners) who share a common goal: to defend the cyber-physical infrastructure and increase the availability of a highly trained workforce through purposeful, practical, hands-on educational and training experiences delivered in novel ways to drive rapid learner understanding and assimilation.

ISU and UIUC are among the leading universities in cyber-physical systems security for critical infrastructures, with documented achievements in R&D, cybersecurity education, and industry and stakeholder engagements.