Building a Statewide Experiential Learning Portfolio in Cybersecurity

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The growing workforce gap in cybersecurity, with an estimated 770 thousand job openings across the country, poses economic and national security risks. Meanwhile, women, African Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos are significantly underrepresented in the cyber workforce. With these two challenges in mind, and informed by research findings that experiential learning opportunities correlate with multiple positive job outcomes, we have built a statewide experiential learning portfolio open to students in more than 40 two-year and four-year colleges and universities across Virginia. Programs in our experiential learning portfolio generally fall under one of five categories: transdisciplinary experiential learning; internships; traineeships; cybersecurity competitions; and intensive training coupled with professional development activities. In this paper, we describe the structure of these programs and associated metrics. Early results indicate very high interest by students and employers, high retention rates in cybersecurity careers, and gains in participation by underrepresented groups.