Tech prof invited to White House to discuss workforce pipeline for national security


COOKEVILLE – A Tennessee Tech University professor is headed to the White House.

Ambareen Siraj, an associate professor of computer science and the director of college’s Cybersecurity Education, Research & Outreach Center, has been invited to participate in a meeting on developing the K-12 computer science and technology education pipeline for the national security industry.

The meeting, to be held this Friday at the White House complex in Washington, D.C., builds on President Barack Obama administration’s “Computer Science for All” initiative and is aimed at coordinating efforts to scale up K-12 computer science education with efforts to invest in the pipeline of national and cybersecurity workers for the United States.

Siraj is the leader on four National Science Foundation grants involving cybersecurity and is the founder of the national Women in Cybersecurity conference, an effort to recruit, retain and advance women in the cybersecurity industry.

“The fact that we are being invited to these meetings at the White House is a testimony to the leadership and accomplishment of our College of Engineering faculty within Tennessee and nationally,” said Vahid Motevalli, College of Engineering associate dean for research and innovation.

Tech’s cybersecurity center was established in summer 2015 in an effort to integrate university-wide existing activities and initiatives in cybersecurity. In October, the National Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security designated it as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

“Our center is unique in Tennessee by emphasizing the integration of education, research and outreach,” Siraj said. “At CEROC, our mission is not only to produce security-conscious students to enter the computing workforce, but also to create a pipeline of cyber defenders and researchers by educating them with a standard cybersecurity curriculum that integrates original research conducted by our faculty in this area.

As a part of its commitment, the center serves as one of the primary cybersecurity resources for different academic, government and business institutions in the state and region. The center is also the home of the Tennessee CyberCorps, a scholarship for service program funded by a nearly $4 million NSF grant. The CyberCorps program at Tennessee Tech is the only such program in the state, and one of only 63 across the country.

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