U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence selects UMBC Training Centers to design a cyber curriculum for soldiers

Published: Jan 28, 2020

The U.S. Army recently selected UMBC Training Centers as the sole recipient of an award to develop a novel cybersecurity curriculum for soldiers. The 70-week-long program will train soldiers for a new military role, as cyberspace capabilities developer technicians. 

Several companies and institutions were invited to apply for the award, but UMBC was the only recipient selected, explains Kent Malwitz, president of UMBC Training Centers. This relatively rare move by the Army affirms the quality of UMBC Training Centers’ proposal and existing programs. 

Kent Malwitz. Photo courtesy of Kent Malwitz.

This new project builds on UMBC Training Centers’ long history of providing world-class technical training to the military and intelligence community. It follows recent work in delivering similar programs to support cybersecurity operations at Fort Meade in Maryland, and Fort Gordon in Georgia. 

Expanding programs to meet demand for cyber experts

The new course of study will expand upon existing programs that UMBC Training Centers has  presented to soldiers in shorter time frames. In 2013, the Training Centers piloted an intensive 11-week program, says Homer Minnick, director of the Department of Defense programs at UMBC Training Centers. In order to excel in that course, Minnick explains, students need to have a deep understanding of programming languages. There was interest in longer courses that could give students more hands-on lab experience with programming and fulfill the Army’s skill requirements.

Homer Minnick. Photo courtesy of Homer Minnick.

Two years later, UMBC Training Centers launched the Tool Developer Qualification Course (TDQC), a 32-week version of the prior pilot program. In addition to a full 22 weeks of classroom instruction, the expanded program provides 10 weeks of project work, including a robust capstone component. 

The 32-week long program has produced 90 graduates, and there are currently 20 students enrolled in the seventh cohort from the Army and Marine Corps. Minnick notes that students have the opportunity to develop a cybersecurity foundation and also to apply the skills they learn in the classroom to situations they may encounter in the world. The new 70-week program will yield graduates with even more highly advanced skills and extensive experience. 

Serving active-duty military and beyond

An increased demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals within the military means that training opportunities for service members in these areas are more important than ever, says Minnick. He explains, “The Army has recognized the need for this program, and the importance of making it an institutional program.” 

UMBC Training Centers is a not-for-profit owned by UMBC that offers professional and technical training in areas such as data science, cybersecurity, cloud computing, software development, project management and leadership and innovation. Training Centers has long served the United States military, including active duty and transitioning soldiers, veterans, and their family members seeking to begin or advance their careers in technology. 

A classroom at the UMBC Training Centers. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.

In addition to scaling the 32-week program up to 70 weeks, Minnick looks forward to modifying existing intensive programs to meet the changing needs of the Army and to support the learning of enlisted soldiers and others.

Training Centers’ Certified Cyber Analyst Operator program was initially developed to help the military build its cybersecurity capabilities, and is now being offered to soldiers who are preparing to exit the military and begin the next phase of their careers, as well as to civilians changing careers. 

Coming soon this year, UMBC Training Centers will launch a certificate in software development to provide people careers or changing careers with “an accelerated way to enter the field of software development,” says Malwitz. In addition to working with enlisted soldiers, he looks forward to helping retired military personnel and others access “the opportunity to begin a career in this high demand, financially lucrative field.”

Banner image: The UMBC Training Centers. Photo courtesy of UMBC Training Centers.

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