Assistant professor in CSSE part of multi-institution cyber workforce development program

Published: Jun 11, 2024 8:00 AM

By Joe McAdory

Akond Rahman, assistant professor in computer science and software engineering (CSSE) and an affiliated faculty member of the Auburn Cyber Research Center (ACRC), is part of a multi-institution workforce development program designed to provide students with extra cybersecurity training to prepare for Department of Defense (DOD)-related careers.

The project, “A Virtual Institute for Cyber Research and Experiential Education,” will establish the consortium “NKAT-VI” (acronym of participating universities North Carolina Agriculture and Technical State University, Kennesaw State University, Auburn University and Tuskegee University) that focuses on meeting the cyber workforce needs of the U.S. Armed Services, DOD and Defense Industrial Base partners.

Auburn University was awarded more than $120,000 for the first year of this two-year grant, funded via North Carolina A&T.

“There is a tremendous gap in the cyber workforce,” said Rahman, Auburn’s principal investigator in the consortium. “This gap is not only within industry, but also in the government and federal sector. We need to develop students to become professionals who will have the necessary cybersecurity knowledge to defend and mitigate cyber attacks that are constantly coming from enemy states. This project directly responds to the call of strengthening the nation’s cyber workforce strategy mentioned in the National Cybersecurity Strategy.”

Rahman, who is leading three National Science Foundation projects also added, “This consortium provides a great way to directly make a positive impact to address the nation’s need of generating technically-sound cybersecurity professionals.”

Rahman said the program is open to all Auburn University undergraduate students who are U.S. citizens, and has three immediate thrusts: 1) identify students interested in cyber-related careers and taking cyber-related courses necessary to obtain NKAT-VI scholarships, 2) integrate education material into curriculum, 3) conduct cybersecurity research in collaboration with ACRC faculty members.

The program will not only equip students with technical skills, but also prepare them for conducting independent research. Rahman will be spearheading the institute’s objectives for Auburn University within the consortium.

The ACRC, which integrates cutting-edge technology and research to develop innovative cybersecurity methods, is also playing a role by not only helping to identify prospective students, but also in managing CSSE’s undergraduate certificate in cyber defense.

“Dr. Rahman’s leadership as principal investigator of Auburn University’s participation in the NKAT-VI consortium is a great example of ACRC’s impact on addressing the strong national need for DOD and its Defense Industrial Base partners to develop their cybersecurity workforce,” said ACRC Interim Director Daniel Tauritz. “It is also highly synergistic with Auburn being one of only 10 institutions earning National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity designations for cyber operations, cyber defense and cyber research.”

The NKAT-VI scholarship committee will award scholarships to students who meet the following criteria:

  • Be enrolled in one of the following home institution programs: electrical and computer engineering, computer science, computational science and technology, cyber intelligence, data science, or NKAT-related fields.
  • Planning to pursue employment within DOD or the defense industry.
  • Be security clearance eligible.

Courses within the program include security of wireless networks, secure mobile and web app development, secure development and operations, applied mathematics, applied cryptography, data analysis engineering and foreign language fundamentals.

“Dr. Rahman’s project continues our department’s history of developing strong educational programs that respond to both emerging and long-standing areas of critical importance to our nation’s security, economy, and technological competitiveness,” said CSSE Associate Department Chair Dean Hendrix. “CSSE offers multiple undergraduate and graduate degree programs in computer science, software engineering, cybersecurity, and — beginning this fall — artificial intelligence.”

Media Contact: Joe McAdory,, 334.844.3447
Akond Rahman will join peer researchers at North Carolina A&T, Kennesaw State and Tuskegee University on the project, "A Virtual Institute for Cyber Research and Experiential Education."

Akond Rahman will join peer researchers at North Carolina A&T, Kennesaw State and Tuskegee University on the project, "A Virtual Institute for Cyber Research and Experiential Education."

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