Professors Sherman and Oliva receive NSF award to study cybersecurity education

UMBC Professors Alan T. Sherman (PI, CSEE) and Linda Oliva (CO-PI, Education) recently received more than $260,000 of a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study and improve how cybersecurity is taught at the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Military Academy. 

The project, Examining Pedagogy in Cybersecurity (EPIC), is collaborative with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Minnesota Duluth and is funded through NSF’s Secure and Trustworthy Computing (SaTC) program. Because the academies teach cybersecurity to all first-year students, EPIC offers a large-scale opportunity to investigate how simulation-based teaching and learning affects different student populations.

In the first phase of the research, Sherman and his collaborators—including computer science Ph.D. student Andrew Slack—will study how instructors at the academies structure and teach their cybersecurity courses. In the second phase, they will introduce active simulation-based learning exercises and pedagogies and assess their effectiveness. 

UMBC’s championship-winning Cyberdawgs cyberdefense team will help adapt and improve learning materials. As one quantitative measure of the new pedagogy’s effectiveness, EPIC will assess students’ conceptual understanding using the Cybersecurity Concept Inventory (CCI) developed by Sherman and his team. 

Some material adapted from this UMBC News article