The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI)

Virginia Tech — Goal 2 Initiative The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI)

The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) is a statewide, multi-institutional effort that is designed to serve as an engine for research, innovation, talent development, and commercialization of technologies at the intersection of security, autonomy, and data. Virginia Tech's (VT) leadership set up four geographic nodes to facilitate coordination, and VT serves as the lead for the Southwest Node (SN). To fulfill the CCI goals related to talent development in this critical area, the SN has created courses to be taught in the K-12 system. These courses will be coupled with K-12 teacher training to better prepare teachers in the area of cybersecurity knowledge as well as how to use technology that is necessary for student training exercises.

The CCI also makes information about institution-based academic programs available such as VT's related BS/MS/MEng degrees and the graduate certificate in Cybersecurity Engineering.  

VT has recently started offering non-credit based bootcamps in conjunction with Fullstack to offer upskilling coupled with career advising in the area of cybersecurity. Initial conversations between units are exploring how these non-credit offerings can be expanded through the CCI. 

Initiative Differentiators

This effort requires coordination between SN leadership based at VT with many other institutions in the region. For instance, Radford University will lead the development of the teacher training modules that are being developed. The non-credit based bootcamps in the area of cybersecurity are also being offered in data analytics and coding. While this is a new effort for VT, based on the interest to date the university is exploring how to use non-credit based offerings coupled with career advising to address workforce needs in the Commonwealth.

Key Interventions and Milestones

This effort involves K12 students, K12 teacher training, non-credit bootcamps, and coordination between higher education institutions in the southwest region of the state. Southwest Virginia is a region that has rural populations who are underserved. The SN CCI activities are slated to continue for the next several years and metrics related to K12 student participation, K12 teacher participation, and boot camp enrollment are tracked annually.

Expected Impact

This past year has established baseline targets and discussions are underway to identify strategic growth targets. A key metric of success in the next two years will be establishment of a coordinated system of communication related to opportunities that create a pathway from K12 to post-baccalaureate career training in the area of cybersecurity.