Virginia Tech is launching a multidisciplinary cybersecurity education program with funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The California-based philanthropic organization awarded the university a $500,000 grant for the CyberLeaders 2020 program, which is slated to begin in fall 2016.

The initiative, which will be anchored in the Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology, will educate students across the technical, policy, and regulatory sides of the growing field of cybersecurity.

“Right now students either receive a technical education in computer engineering or computer science, or we train people in cyber policy or regulation,” Hume Center Director and Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Charles Clancy said. “There are very few people who have working knowledge of both disciplines, and we are grateful to the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for the support to help us begin this important work of comprehensive cyber education.”

The grant to Virginia Tech from the Hewlett Foundation will fund a cyber-leaders certificate program for students, including tailored curriculum offerings, research activities, seminars, conferences and workshops. Foundation funding will also provide support for a coordinator and faculty to guide the program.

While the CyberLeaders 2020 program will be anchored at the Hume Center, its cross-disciplinary work will include partners from across Virginia Tech, including the College of Architecture and Urban Studies’ School of Public and International Affairs and the Pamplin College of Business.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation provides funding to organizations with ambitious goals such as helping to support global development, limiting the risk of climate change, and improving education for students in a variety of areas.

The foundation’s grant to Virginia Tech comes through its Cyber Initiative, which was launched in 2014 to address topics that impact the security, stability, and resilience of a free and open Internet and connected devices.

“The Hewlett Foundation is excited to support the CyberLeaders 2020 program at Virginia Tech,” said Eli Sugarman, the foundation’s Cyber Initiative Program Officer. “It will help fill a critical gap by educating students in both the technical and policy dimensions of cybersecurity. The program’s graduates will have a real impact within government, industry, and civil society, helping to build a robust, multidisciplinary cybersecurity field that serves the public interest.”

The Hume Center, with facilities in Blacksburg and the National Capital Region, leads Virginia Tech’s efforts to develop the next generation of leaders in national security technologies. The Center focuses on research and education in the areas of signals intelligence, electronic warfare, cybersecurity and analytics, and aerospace systems.


Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.


Written by Annie McCallum

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