Hudson County Community College Receives $600,000 National Science Foundation Grant to Expand Its Nationally Acclaimed Cybersecurity Program

May 17, 2024

Hudson County Community College 2023-24 Peer Leaders

Pictured from left: Hudson County Community College 2023-24 Peer Leaders Najwa Essaki, Hannah Allen, Natalia Amin Montero, and Lisa Camacho.

$599,811 grant will lead to increased representation of women students, expanded experiential learning, additional certification opportunities, and continuing contributions to the growth of the area’s cybersecurity workforce.

May 17, 2024, Jersey City, NJ – The explosive demand for Cybersecurity is outpacing the supply of computer science professionals who assess threats and prevent attacks. Educational institutions, healthcare organizations, government, businesses, and individuals are increasingly vulnerable to evolving hazards including phishing, spoofing, malware, ransomware, and viruses. Providing a highly skilled, well-qualified workforce to protect infrastructures, and training more women in Cybersecurity, will help address the labor shortage and underrepresentation of women in this male-dominated field.

Hudson County Community College (HCCC) was awarded a $599,811 National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for its program, “Nurturing Resilience: Empowering the Next Generation of Cybersecurity Professionals with a Focus on Women.” The program goals are to recruit and retain more women in the HCCC Cybersecurity Program; strengthen the program with expanded experiential learning and additional certifications; and contribute to the development of an expanded Cybersecurity workforce.

“HCCC is designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity by the National Security Agency (NSA). We are honored that the NSF recognizes the College’s important role in training the next generation of highly skilled and experienced Cybersecurity professionals and addressing the gender gap in this field,” said HCCC President Dr. Christopher Reber. “This funding will allow us to continuously improve our Cybersecurity Program. We thank Dr. Burl Yearwood, Dean of STEM, and Faisal Aljamal, Developer and Coordinator of HCCC’s Cybersecurity Program, for their dedication in building our program into a national model.”

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that demand for Cybersecurity jobs will increase 31% by 2029 and 35% by 2031 – almost eight times faster than the national average job growth of 4% in all industries combined.

Dr. Reber noted that with women comprising just 19% of HCCC Cybersecurity Program students, the College will utilize a portion of the funding to increase that number by partnering and promoting Cybersecurity careers in area high schools; creating research-oriented Cybersecurity workshops for high school females; utilizing women currently enrolled in HCCC’s Cybersecurity program to speak at the College’s annual “Girls in Technology” symposium; establishing a dedicated mentorship program for aspiring female Cybersecurity majors; and continuing to offer faculty and essential personnel with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion professional development opportunities.

The NSF funding will also allow HCCC to keep up with industry expectations by adding a new Cybersecurity Lab with 24 workstations, and hardware and software that enable experiential, high-impact teaching in leading-edge Cybersecurity fields; hiring two qualified lab technicians; creating three new certifications – an academic certification in Cybersecurity, plus two proficiency certifications (Ethical Hacking and Computer Forensics); and fully launching the recently initiated and student-led Cybersecurity Club.

To increase the area’s Cybersecurity workforce, HCCC received commitments from four local technology firms to provide internship opportunities for HCCC Cybersecurity students.

“The HCCC Cybersecurity Advisory Board and continuous evaluation of program components and outcomes will make our  Cybersecurity Program even more responsive, dynamic and resilient in meeting the needs of faculty, students, and employers,” Dr. Reber said.

More information about the HCCC Cybersecurity program is available at