Virginia Tech® home

Solving the Cyber Workforce & Skills Challenges through Experiential Learning II

Researchers plan to recruit students interested in cybersecurity to work with industry participants facing challenging security problems. Industry representatives will also be asked to mentor their student workers. 

Funded by the CCI Hub

Rationale and Background

The cybersecurity workforce and skills shortage can be mitigated by leveraging experiential learning to provide students with hands-on training through real projects with real industry participants.

This strategy can prepare students to be more marketable and effective in the workforce through the integration of industry participation. 

Researchers, who have run experiential learning courses since Spring 2021, have evolved their methodology to provide students an effective experience that can lead to early career success.


  • Recruiting: There will be two calls:
  • Project definition: The instructor will work with industry participants to define the project scope, deliverables, expectations, and goals of the experiential learning effort. 
  • Execution: In 12-week sessions held in an agile environment, students meet clients (industry participants) weekly to present progress, receive feedback, and discuss next steps. Students are instructed to dedicate additional group time (outside of client and instructor meetings) every week for project execution.
  • Presentation: Students will present their work and discuss lessons learned to interested parties. 
  • Lessons Learned & Scaling: The instructional team will look for areas to improve and grow the experiential learning effort.

Students, who’ll be paid a stipend for their work, will also participate in a networking event with industry participants and other select cyber executives.

Projected Outcomes

Student participants will get paid to work on real-world problems in the cybersecurity industry while being mentored by professionals. 

Researchers hope to see some students get employment offers. Since Spring 2021, researchers’ experiential learning courses resulted in at least four student being offered full-time positions by an industry participant

Industry participants will get access to a known talent pool for recruitment opportunities and a cost-effective way to attempt new / risky projects.