Supported by a major grant from Northrop Grumman, the ACES program is designed to educate future leaders in the field of cybersecurity through rigorous, hands-on learning experiences, an intensive interdisciplinary curriculum, collaborative projects, and professional insight from industry and business leaders. The four-year Honors College program offers students a living-learning experience, giving them the opportunity to collaborate and work closely together as they pursue their advanced program of study in cybersecurity.
Wes Bush, CEO, Chairman and President of Northrop Grumman said, "Not only does the ACES program represent an innovative approach to education, it addresses the shortage of cyber professionals that are in high demand by industry and government."
Also in attendance were University of Maryland President Wallace Loh, University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. (“Brit”) Kirwan, the inaugural ACES cohort of 57 students, University of Maryland faculty, staff and students, and representatives from government and industry.
"Not everyone is a cyber-warrior, but we must acknowledge that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility," said Christian Johnson, a freshman computer science major, to the audience of more than 200. "The ACES program is a 'call to action' for developing and sustaining our future cybersecurity capabilities to protect the institutions and advancements that move America forward."
Kristen Pellicot, a freshman criminology and criminal justice major, noted the impact the ACES program will have on the world. "Our future depends on our ability to secure our information in a way that is guided by ethical and moral standards," she said. "Today, we celebrate our ability, as mere 18- and 19-year-olds, to address this issue and to contribute to the critical solutions necessary for our collective welfare."
The ACES Program serves as an inaugural Regional Workforce Project of The Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF), a national organization of Fortune 500 CEOs and research university presidents dedicated to improving U.S. competitiveness through innovative education and workforce solutions. USM Chancellor Brit Kirwan chairs the group, and Wes Bush of Northrop Grumman serves as vice chair.
"The University of Maryland gets it when it comes to partnering with businesses," said Bush.
ACES students will take on an intensive curriculum, which includes general cybersecurity offerings, as well as a variety of other topics, including cybersecurity forensics, reverse engineering, secure coding, criminology, and law and public policy. Summer internships will augment coursework with real-world projects and develop a pipeline of talented students. Throughout, Northrop Grumman will provide guest lecturers, participate in an industry advisory board, pose real-world problems for students to solve, and provide advisors and mentors for capstone projects.