November 9, 2022

Expanding Pathways in Cybersecurity

The University of Texas at El Paso joins PNNL and Space Systems Command in CHIRP

CHIRP Square Image

(Image by Timothy Holland | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

As threats in the cyber and space domain grow, filling positions that were once vacant with digital warfighters of today continues to be a challenge for the information-security profession. To meet this challenge, Space Systems Command (SSC) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) developed a partnership to build the cyber workforce needed to generate more resilient and secure space systems through a program called Cyber Halo Innovation Research Program (CHIRP). The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) was recently announced as a new academic partner for the CHIRP program, opening more opportunities for students to be equipped for a future in cybersecurity.

“There are many brilliant young minds seeking undergraduate degrees, especially within our minority focused institutions. If we’re going to advance our posture in this realm we must meet the up-and-coming workforce professionals right where they arein the academic system,” Colonel Jennifer Krolikowski-Stamer, chief information officer of the Space Systems Command stated. If we can give these students exposure to the threats earlier on, build their critical thinking, and maximize their potential through a program like CHIRP, what we’re doing is building a foundation for experts that can immediately contribute to the fight once they begin in the workforce.” 

For more than two decades, PNNL has advanced resilient cyber capabilities and delivered first-of-a-kind solutions to protect the nation’s critical strategic assets. PNNL contributes to the CHIRP program through their capabilities, the contributions of their leading researchers, and with the expertise of their STEM education team, which is one of the most diverse among national laboratories.

“Innovative collaborations are essential to address the shortage of qualified, cybersecurity talent for the future STEM workforce,” said Evangelina Shreeve, director of PNNL’s Office of STEM Education. “CHIRP builds on the expertise of PNNL’s cybersecurity researchers and STEM education to uniquely equip this next generation of cybersecurity professionals.”

Academic institutions like the UTEPthe leading Hispanic-Serving University and one of the United States’ top five percent R1: Doctoral Universitiesunderstand the need to protect and defend our nation across all domains, especially cyber.  

“The development of cybersecurity talent will help keep America safe from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats,” said Heather Wilson, president of UTEP. “This partnership provides financial assistance to our students as well as hands-on experience at Space Systems Command.  We are pleased to partner with PNNL and the Space Force to open more opportunities for our students.”

Starting in the Spring of 2023, UTEP will allow students to apply for selection into the program. Following the selection process, students will participate in a summer cyber institute, which is designed as the prerequisite to start their matriculation as a CHIRP fellow. UTEP, will become the second university to bring CHIRP to its campus. California State University-San Bernardino (CSU-SB) served as the first academic institution to offer CHIRP earlier this year. 

Published: November 9, 2022