By Matthew Ritchie, Special to the AFRO

Senate Bill 615, which was signed back in early May by Governor Hogan, takes effect on July 1st. The bill establishes the Cyber Warrior Diversity Program (CWDP) at multiple Maryland institutions of higher education.

Introduced by Senator Barbara Robinson of the 40th District of Baltimore City, the Cyber Warrior Diversity Program’s main focus will be to train students in the areas of computer networking and cybersecurity. In addition to the training that students will receive, they will also be trained to achieve specific CompTIA certifications. CompTIA is one of the leading providers of certifications in the IT industry. The certification that it provides qualifies participants for U.S. Department of Defense Employment.

Morgan State students and leaders at the opening of pilot Cyber Warrior Diversity Program in 2017. (Courtesy photo)

The following institutions will establish a CWDP: Baltimore City Community College, Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University, and the University Of Maryland Eastern Shore. Starting in fiscal year 2020, Hogan must provide a $2.5 million appropriation each fiscal year to the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). The $2.5 million will be given to the participating institutions in the form of grants to sustain their CWDPs.

This bill represents a centered focus on promoting Black employment in the cybersecurity industry. According to the United States Department of Labor, African Americans make up 15.6% of the total employed population of the information security industry.

Cybersecurity related occupations are expected to experience considerable growth in the United States in the coming decade. Employment in this field is projected to grow 13% by the year 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With the ratification of the bill and the creation of the programs, all participating schools must jointly hold a National Cyber Warrior Diversity Conference by December 1, 2019. Morgan and Coppin State started pilot Cyber Warrior Diversity Programs in 2017.

There will be a press conference on June 19 at Coppin State University to discuss the Cyber Warrior Diversity program. Some of the confirmed speakers include the Presidents of Morgan State University, Bowie State University, and Coppin State University, Senator Barbara Robinson, Maryland Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, and Lance Lucas, the founder of Digit All Systems and the Cyber Warrior Diversity Program. The press conference will be a chance for each university president to talk about the impact that the cybersecurity program will have on their institution.