By: Diane Stirling
(315) 443-8975

An innovative project designed to boost the capacity and reach of security education, in which School of Information Studies Assistant Professor Yang Wang is serving as co-principal investigator, has received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The project, “Spreading SEEDS: Large-Scale Dissemination of SEED Labs for Security Education,” has been awarded funds of $827,385 for a four-year period through 2018. The project’s principal investigator is Professor Kevin Du, of Syracuse University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Du initially developed the lab courses project in 2002 and it has received NSF funding over the years. His labs address a wide spectrum of security principles and provide a widely-used, well-established standard of security education components. As of 2012, the lab exercises were being used by 150 instructors in 26 countries. Now, Du hopes to expand his efforts in order to make “a transformative impact on academic institutions offering Cybersecurity courses,” according to his proposal.

The professor plans to do that by expanding the delivery of the lab courses in three new and distinct ways. Those plans are: to host two summer workshops at Syracuse University to train several dozen university instructors on how to use the labs; to design a massive online open course (MOOC) based on the lab learning components, in order to facilitate wider distribution of the material; and to expand lab program content to include new educational segments on cybersecurity issues in mobile computing. Du told the NSF he hopes to reach 700 schools (about 15 percent of all universities and colleges in the United States) and to create a strong community to advance education in the area of mobile system security.

Professor Wang’s role involves the evaluation components for the program. He will provide project support by assessing the educational impact of the workshops through formative evaluations he will conduct each year, and by developing a summative evaluation at the program’s completion. He plans to use surveys, interviews with instructors, and focus groups to understand and assess how instructors are approaching the labs, and how the new and expanded formats of the labs are delivering on the goal of providing security education, he said.

Of his involvement in and support to the project, Wang said he is “quite excited” to be a part of such an already-successful program. “I think cybersecurity is one of the main strengths of our school, and I’m happy to see that I can play a role in the project, helping to spread a good curriculum in educational programs for security education. Security is important; we see that every day, and we know that education is a key piece of improving status of cybersecurity.”