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Strategies for Developing a Diverse 21st Century Cybersecurity Workforce


Cybersecurity is a transdisciplinary field, creating new challenges for how to effectively train a diverse workforce. For example, twenty-first century cybersecurity includes new technologies such as those associated with Quantum Information Science and Engineering (QISE). Important examples are quantum random number generation fundamental to cryptography, quantum key distribution (QKD) for quantum secure-communications, and quantum machine learning providing more effective algorithms for defeating cyberattack methods. 

While there is debate about the most effective way to train a workforce in a discipline that includes an expanse of interdisciplinary fields, there is agreement that experiential learning and diversity play crucial roles in accomplishing this goal. Experiential learning is critical to master fundamental new concepts and applications such as the inclusion of quantum phenomena. In addition, this new workforce must be diverse and include talent from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM and also Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). 

This presentation will describe ongoing attempts at Virginia Tech to address these latter two issues by discussing a newly developed approach to experiential learning relevant to this new workforce as well as leveraging this approach to enhance diversity and inclusion including partnering with MSIs and other institutions of higher learning. 

About Wayne Scales

Wayne Scales received a BS and MS degrees in honors electrical engineering and applied mathematics from Virginia Tech and a PhD from Cornell University in electrical engineering and applied physics with focus in space plasma physics.

He was an ASEE Postdoctoral Fellow in the Space Plasma Physics Branch of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Afterwards, he joined the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech and is currently the J. Byron Maupin Professor of Engineering and was founding director of the Center for Space Science and Engineering Research (Space@VT).

Scales is an affiliate professor in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech. He also serves as associate vice provost for research and diversity where his responsibilities include supporting special research initiatives as well as research partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He has received a number of awards for excellence in research, teaching, and service in the College of Engineering.