UTSA professor receives large cybersecurity grant

Vincent Valdez

Dr. Glenn Dietrich, professor in the Department of information S\systems and cybersecurity, recently received a $350,000 grant from the National Security Agency (NSA) to promote research activities for UTSA students and provide cyber security and forensic courses to Wounded Warriors.

The NSA has funded UTSA because it is a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, a program designed to reduce vulnerability in America’s national information infrastructure. A portion of the $350,000 grant will give UTSA students the opportunity to research both classified and declassified research problems in cybersecurity through the INSuRE Program.

“The INsuRe Program is administered out of Purdue University,” said Dietrich. “Technical directors, people who are responsible for particular areas of cybersecurity in the NSA and Federal Labs, have problems that they want a fresh look at. It may be that they need help defining a problem. It may be that they want to test a solution to see if it works. It may be coming up with new solutions. And they want students to do the work.

“We’ll have students either in teams or as individuals interface with the technical directors to find out what they want and how to do it. Then the students do the research for them.”

According to Dietrich, the technical directors at the NSA and Federal Labs consider the problems to be difficult. This experience supplies students with a large base of knowledge and expertise in particular research fields as well as an opportunity to interact with “the top people in the country.”

The other portion of the $350,000 grant will give Wounded Warriors the opportunity to advance in civil service cybersecurity positions 

after completing nine credit hours in relevant courses and receiving a certification from UTSA. The program takes three weeks to complete and will be taught in San Antonio and Camp Pendleton, California.

“The purpose of the Wounded Warriors grant is to train the Warriors so that they can go to work,” said Dietrich. “They can get a job in a lucrative career field, something that’s got a future and pays well. So, cybersecurity is a natural fit for this description. A lot these guys already have security clearances because they’re from the military, making them perfect candidates.”

According to Dietrich, the courses provided in this program will help Wounded Warriors prepare for their Security+ certification. This certification gives the Wounded Warriors a basic certification in the cyber security industry ultimately setting them up for better job opportunities.

“There are literally 100,000 jobs in the government that are unfilled,” said Dietrich. As cybersecurity continues to grow, Dietrich encourages students to take interest in cybersecurity and asserts that UTSA undergraduates working in San Antonio in cybersecurity earn 70-80 thousand dollars a year.

This grant puts a brighter spotlight on UTSA’s cyber security program, already ranked number one in the nation, and its faculty teaching the courses.