Funding from the of Defense Department’s Office of Economic Adjustment Will Upskill Current Workers
June 24, 2020 – MxD, the nation’s digital manufacturing institute, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) today announced the launch of a cybersecurity for manufacturing training program with nearly $650,000 from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA).
The program’s target audience is current workers in manufacturing and adjacent industries. It is the first to focus on increasing these workers’ cybersecurity skills.
While manufacturers encounter typical business vulnerabilities such as stolen intellectual property, they also face unique threats because of increasingly connected manufacturing floors. A cybercriminal could infiltrate a facility and shut down a plant’s operations, or worse, program equipment to start making faulty parts without the manufacturers knowing it.
The program comes at a crucial time. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased remote work and remote manufacturing operations, which can make businesses more vulnerable to attack.
As a result, job openings in manufacturing cybersecurity, which were growing prior to the pandemic, are expected to grow more rapidly.
“People will come out of this program with a certification that shows they have the tools to be successful in a cybersecurity role in manufacturing,” said Lizabeth Stuck, senior director of MxD Learn, the institute’s workforce development arm. “This has the dual benefit of upskilling workers who may be sidelined during the COVID-19 crisis and increasing the security of U.S. manufacturers from cyber-attacks.”
The multi-phased project will begin with an identification of the skills most needed for cybersecurity roles and the selection of individuals to form the first training cohort.
MxD soon will be releasing The Hiring Guide: Cybersecurity in Manufacturing, which will be the principal resource for determining the skills needed for cybersecurity in an operational technology (OT) setting. MxD Learn will work with its industry and academic partners to select 10-12 organizations with potential candidates for training.
MxD and UMBC will then develop one- to two-week web-based courses on cybersecurity fundamentals with an in-person element planned for UMBC Training Centers in January 2021.
The pilot cohort will take the initial courses and then participate in a rigorous evaluation of the material. The evaluation will inform recommendations on expanded, more specialized coursework that could be delivered with immersive training technologies such as virtual reality.
“For years, UMBC has developed resources for working professionals to get certifications in computing, information technology and related fields,” said Nilanjan Banerjee, Ph.D., professor of computer science and electrical engineering at UMBC, and PI on the grant. “This grant will enable UMBC and MxD to leverage this expertise and create a suite of courses in cybersecurity for operational manufacturing technology that can be scaled nationally.”
As part of this collaboration, UMBC has joined MxD as an academic partner. The project will formally launch in July 2020.
About MxD Learn
MxD Learn, the workforce development arm of MxD, brings experience in building collaborative partnerships to address the workforce development needs aligned to the Institute’s Department of Defense designation as the National Center for Cybersecurity in Manufacturing. Leveraging the capability and enterprise of industry partners with academic research and government and professional expertise, MxD Learn responds to local, regional, national, and DoD needs to proactively bridge and build a more resilient and secure industrial base by equipping the manufacturing workforce for the jobs of the future.
UMBC is a leading public research university known for innovative teaching, relevant research across disciplines, and a supportive community that empowers and inspires inquisitive minds. The University serves 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and is one of the country’s most inclusive education communities. U.S. News & World Report has named UMBC a national leader in innovation and undergraduate teaching, and Times Higher Education has honored UMBC for social and economic impact. More than 130 companies are located at the bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park, which is also home to Maryland’s first cyber incubator.
Alyssa Sullivan, MxD
Megan Hanks Mastrola, UMBC