EWU Lands $1 Million Google Grant for Cybersecurity Clinic

EWU is one of 15 new clinics set to launch nationwide

June 4, 2024 By David Meany
A person working on cybersecurity.

Eastern Washington University has been selected to receive $1 million in grant funding and wraparound support from Google’s Cybersecurity Clinics Fund to establish the EWU Cybersecurity Clinic. The funding from Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm, is part of a $25 million collaboration with the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics.

Asst. Professor Stu Steiner helped secure the grant from Google.org

The Cybersecurity clinics at higher education institutions like Eastern provide free digital security services to under-resourced organizations, similar to how law or medical schools offer free community clinics.

“Eastern is thrilled to receive this funding from Google to help us continue our work in this fast-growing field,” says Stu Steiner, director of Eastern’s Cybersecurity Program. “Establishing the clinic will allow EWU to formalize its outreach efforts and specifically work toward strengthening cybersecurity and cyber hygiene at rural or under-resourced public agencies in our region.”

The new EWU Cybersecurity Clinic will give EWU students the opportunity to learn cybersecurity and AI skills in an effective, hands-on manner while simultaneously helping to protect vulnerable organizations and critical infrastructure, such as local small businesses, rural municipalities, hospitals and schools, from cyber-attacks. Additionally, the clinic will serve the energy sector and public water/wastewater systems.

Students enrolled in credit-based clinic courses will learn to conduct cyber risk reviews and audits for clients and develop topic-based training materials. The course will include technical skills, business communication, professionalism and report writing. Students do not need to be Cybersecurity or Computer Science majors to enroll.

Through the grant, the EWU clinic is funded to train 132 students and provide support to 48 clients over 6 years.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2024 Global Risks Report, cyber insecurity remains one of the top 10 global risks over the next 10 years. Currently, there are nearly 450,000 open cybersecurity jobs available in the U.S, including 7,651 in Washington State, and demand for cyber professionals is projected to grow 32 percent by 2033. To ensure that communities, critical infrastructure and businesses big and small across the U.S. are secure, experts believe we need a skilled, diverse and AI savvy cybersecurity workforce.

“The world is in a moment where emerging technologies, like AI, are creating both new opportunities and threats in the world of cybersecurity,” said Heather Adkins, VP of Security Engineering at Google. “It’s essential that we invest in growing a strong, diverse and widespread cybersecurity workforce to help protect everyone – from critical infrastructure to small businesses and schools. The 15 clinics that we’re helping to establish serve a wide variety of students across all corners of the U.S. and we’re excited to see the impact they’ll have in their local communities.”

“Google’s transformative investment is catalyzing cybersecurity for the public good,” says Ann Cleaveland, co-founder and co-chair of the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics and Executive Director of the UC Berkeley Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity. “We congratulate the recipients and applaud these awards, which propel forward the vision of the Consortium to establish a cybersecurity clinic in every U.S. state by 2030.”

Eastern Washington University is one of 15 new clinics set to launch in 2024 at higher education institutions across the country, thanks to a collaboration from Google and the Consortium of Cybersecurity Clinics.  In addition to $1 million in Google.org funding, the tech company is offering EWU volunteer mentorship from Google employees, Google Titan Security Keys, and scholarships for the Google Career Certificate in Cybersecurity.  Learn more on Google’s blog and the Consortium’s website.

The announcement builds on Google’s 2023 support for 10 clinics, part of a combined commitment to launch 25 Google-supported cyber clinics nationwide by 2025. With the latest round of funding, Google.org has now committed more than $25 million toward creating the diverse and AI- and digital-security savvy workforce needed to protect critical U.S. infrastructure from cyber-attacks.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency have designated EWU as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (NCAE-C). Eastern is the only four-year institution in eastern Washington to earn this classification.