California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) has launched Cleared for Success (CFS), a workforce development initiative aimed at bridging talent gaps in the cybersecurity sector.

Cal Poly, which is now fundraising for CFS, said the initiative will establish a talent pipeline of highly skilled STEM students interested in pursuing cybersecurity careers in the public service and national defense sectors.

CFS will be housed within the California Cybersecurity Institute (CCI) at Cal Poly and will introduce students from the Noyce School of Applied Computing in the College of Engineering (CENG) to foundational security concepts; assist them in their professional journeys as future cybersecurity professionals; and provide them the opportunity to network with leading employers recruiting for this specialized skillset.

In addition to gaining practical experience through internships and apprenticeships, students will also learn the importance of obtaining and maintaining necessary credentials such as security clearances and cybersecurity certifications, and get assistance in those processes. Cal Poly said that this will improve career placement outcomes for hundreds of highly qualified students in well-paying fields in the public and private sectors.

“This program will provide students with an unprecedented Learn by Doing opportunity as they collaborate with industry leaders on real-world projects in the field,” said Bill Britton, Cal Poly’s vice president for information technology, chief information officer, and director of the California Cybersecurity Institute.

“Cybersecurity has become the frontline of national defense, and cyberthreats are rapidly evolving to incorporate emerging trends such as generative A,” he said. “Cal Poly graduates are uniquely positioned to anticipate the next frontier in cybersecurity intelligence threats to solve high-impact problems at the national level.”

In terms of growth potential, Cal Poly said the longitudinal goals for CFS include expanding scale and scope to support additional industries, including aerospace engineering, public health, energy, and government.

Thus far, the university has received $1 million in foundational funding through philanthropic support to launch the new initiative. The school said it is seeking additional funding to ensure the successful implementation of the program.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs