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About Whatcom: Whatcom Community College in Bellingham is regularly recognized as one of the top 150 community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute. The College, a destination for cybersecurity, healthcare and business studies, offers a bachelor of applied science degree, transfer degrees, career preparation, online courses, and community education classes. WCC’s accomplished faculty and staff serve 11,000 students annually. For more information, visit

NSF awards Whatcom Community College $6.4 million in grants to advance cybersecurity education nationwide

Grants confirm WCC’s national leadership in preparing students for cyber careers

Post Date:08/28/2015 8:36 am
 Rick Larsen and Travis
Rep. Rick Larsen with WCC Computer Information Systems faculty Travis
McEwen in the College's acclaimed CIS lab on Aug. 31.


Bellingham, Wash. – Whatcom Community College (WCC) has received two grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) totaling $6.4 million. These grants reinforce Whatcom’s nationwide leadership in cybersecurity and allow the College to drive a substantial nationwide expansion of cybersecurity programs in other colleges and universities.

“Funding from the National Science Foundation acknowledges the exemplary and cutting-edge work being done by Whatcom’s faculty and staff,” said WCC President Kathi Hiyane-Brown. “The College is proud to be at the forefront of cybersecurity education and to be recognized for creating meaningful advances in the cybersecurity field. It’s exciting to know these grants will allow WCC and partner institutions to share those best practices with colleges throughout the U.S.”

"The grants for Whatcom Community College’s cybersecurity program will further Washington state's role as a leader and hub for cybersecurity,” said Sen. Patty Murray. “Investing in educational opportunities nationwide is critical to developing the workforce needed to defend our economy and our nation from increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks and cyber threats.”

Rep. Rick Larsen added: "Whatcom Community College is a national leader in training a highly skilled cybersecurity workforce to protect our country from increasing cyber threats. These new NSF grants underscore Whatcom Community College’s critical and innovative work to improve our country’s cybersecurity. I look forward to touring the College’s cybersecurity facility on Monday, Aug. 31 and seeing this nationally recognized program in action.”

The first of the two grants, funded for $4,158,633, is titled “Catalyzing Computing and Cybersecurity in Community Colleges” (referred to as “C5”). It provides three years of funding to establish a national network of community colleges that meet exceptionally high standards in cybersecurity and computing education. That network of colleges will prepare more students who are highly qualified for this important field and prepare them for transfer to four-year schools to continue their education. With this funding, grant partners will also develop a new national computing science principles course with enhanced cybersecurity components. In addition, the funding allows WCC and partner institutions across the nation to mentor other colleges pursuing certification through the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to become Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity – Two Year (CAE2Y).

The second grant, funded for $2,202,387 is titled “CyberWatch West: Securing the Cyber West.” It provides three additional years of funding for the successful regional cybersecurity education consortium led by WCC. An NSF-Advanced Technology Education center, CyberWatch West is one of only four centers in the nation dedicated to cybersecurity education. This grant allows the consortium to expand outreach to women and veterans as well. Whatcom is the lead institution, and the CyberWatch West center is located on the College’s campus in Bellingham, Wash. The project’s goal is to strengthen and expand cybersecurity infrastructure in the western U.S., which is home to a high concentration of technology companies, utilities, government agencies, and non-profit organizations that need a well-prepared and advanced technology workforce.

In 2014, Burning Glass Technologies identified 238,158 cybersecurity-related jobs posted nationally. Significant gaps in qualified applicants are projected as wireless connectivity continues to expand.  The collaboration between CyberWatch West and its industry and government partners will ensure graduates are prepared to immediately step into these high-demand, high-wage positions. Both of these NSF grants put WCC in a national leadership role to prepare a highly qualified workforce ready to meet the demands of a challenging and dynamic field.

Dr. Vera Zdravkovich, CyberWatch West’s senior advisor, is the principal investigator (PI) for the C5 grant. Whatcom’s Technology Department Chair Corrinne Sande is the co-PI. Ms. Sande, who is also the lead faculty member of WCC’s Computer Information Systems (CIS) and cybersecurity programs, is the PI for the CyberWatch West grant. Janice Walker, WCC’s dean for workforce education, will serve as project administrator for both NSF grants. 

The grants follow recent expansions of Whatcom’s CIS and cybersecurity programs. In May, the College announced its first applied four-year degree program. Beginning fall 2017, accepted students can enroll in Whatcom’s new Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree in IT Networking. In fall 2014, the NSA and the DHS renewed WCC’s CAE2Y designation, which identifies colleges with model programs in the information assurance field that have curriculum meeting the NSA’s latest requirements. The program’s classrooms and labs received an extensive upgrade in summer 2014.

Whatcom’s CIS program offers a CIS degree with emphasis on information security; an associate in applied science transfer degree in cybersecurity that is aligned with a corresponding bachelor degree program at Western Washington University; and an associate in science - criminal justice, with an option in computer forensics. Students can complete certificates in network administration, technical support and information security.

About Whatcom: Whatcom Community College is a regionally and nationally accredited, comprehensive two-year college with an accomplished faculty and staff who serve 11,000 students annually. On its campus in Bellingham, Wash., and through online courses, Whatcom offers transfer degrees, professional and technical training programs, as well as basic education, job skills, and Community & Continuing Education classes. For more information, visit

About CyberWatch West: Established in 2011, CyberWatch West (CWW) is the only National Science Foundation Advanced Technological Education Center for Cybersecurity in the western United States. CWW offers the most current cybersecurity education via industry partnerships, professional, faculty and student development, and events. Its mission is to increase the quantity and quality of the cybersecurity workforce throughout the western United States. For more information, visit

Contact: Mary Vermillion, Whatcom Community College PIO, 360.383.3310,


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