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CyberForce Competition Reflects NETL’s Commitment to STEM Outreach, Workforce Development

Director’s Corner

by Brian Anderson, PhD.

NETL is dedicated to developing energy technology solutions for today and options for tomorrow. Fulfilling that vision requires cultivating a fresh cadre of capable researchers, scientists and engineers ready and willing to tackle America’s most pressing energy challenges — including cybersecurity.

The Lab demonstrated its commitment to inspire and train the next generation earlier this month as we welcomed about 100 students, mentors and volunteers to our Morgantown, West Virginia, site for the 2019 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) CyberForce CompetitionTM. Sponsored by DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response and coordinated by Argonne National Laboratory, the competition leverages the people, research and capabilities of DOE’s national laboratory complex to test future cyber professionals’ abilities to protect and defend energy-focused critical infrastructure.

There are more than 1 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide and that figure is quickly growing due in large part to a skills gap that must be addressed through education, outreach and workforce development. By creating a real-world cybersecurity challenge, DOE’s CyberForce Competition provides hands-on cyber education to college students and professionals to help close that gap, while simultaneously enhancing awareness of the inextricable link between cybersecurity and essential infrastructure.

NETL was honored to host this exciting educational event, which complements existing Lab programs aimed at developing the future energy workforce from kindergarten through post-graduate levels. For instance:

  • Our K-12 STEM Education & Outreach team regularly visits classrooms, hosts Science Bowl competitions and other STEM-focused contests and provides professional training and workshops for teachers.
  • We offer graduate and post-graduate education programs that provide unique research and training opportunities to ensure that young professionals are prepared to meet the demands of the modern workplace.
  • NETL’s Regional Workforce Initiative offers webinars focused on energy and advanced manufacturing workforce development, hosts tours and meetings with key stakeholders and facilitates collaboration focused on workforce training and economic development.

As legendary actor and director Robert Redford once said, “the measure of our success will be the condition on which we leave the world for the next generation.” NETL is actively working to ensure the next generation is prepared to meet the energy demands of the future through growing education, outreach and workforce development programs that contribute to the Lab’s success in developing energy technologies with the potential to change the world.