Broadening the Path to the STEM Profession Through Cybersecurity Learning

Kaiqi Xiong
University of South Florida

Understanding NSF Clouds and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) for Computer Networking and Security EducationHands-on lab experiments have been an integral part of computer science and engineering curriculums. However, computing resources and manpower as well as financial support to courses may be limited at many universities ranging from small to large universities and from liber arts colleges to top research universities as there are a dramatic increase of student enrollments in computer science and engineering for the past ten years. NSF Clouds enable a real-world, repeatable, programmable, at-scale, and virtual infrastructure for experiments in various computer science areas such as networking, security, and distributed computing. Furthermore, Software-Defined Networking (SDN) has been a core technology in cloud computing and other cyber-physical systems where SDN facilitates network management and enables network programmability and efficient network configuration to improve network performance, monitoring, and security. This presentation will demonstrate our great efforts to the development of SDN-based learning modules for computer networking and security courses to achieve the goal of our funded NSF project by using NSF Clouds. Specifically, we will present the design methodology of the learning modules and their implementations, including account setup and resource reservation, labs for use of measurement tools, as well as SDN labs for network traffic management and several well-known security attacks detection and mitigation. We will further discuss how to develop those learning modules for accommodating students at different levels. Need: -Accommodate students of different levels of computer literacy, focus on experiential learning, and utilize institutional collaboration via cloud computing resources.-Introduce students to computer networking and security concepts through manageable, stand-alone course modules and laboratory exercises.Guiding Questions: -How to integrate SDN and clouds into a coherent form to develop networking-centered learning modules for new and existing courses, where many students often lack math and computer science backgrounds?- How to provide SDN self-contained learning modules that can be flexibly mapped to different courses in cybersecurity-related curricula? -How to integrate new computer networking and security learning modules into existing courses to enhance the curricula of STEM?Outcomes:-Created a range of cybersecurity learning opportunities that emphasize hands-on and realistic experimentation for students in small and large institutions.-Attracted a diverse population of students by introducing cybersecurity topics through multiple paths of study and engagement.Broader Impacts: This project team has developed the methods to improve undergraduate cybersecurity education and engage student learning using NSF Cyberliteratures (Cis). The project has the following key broader impacts:-Increase collaboration among different types of universities in terms of curriculum development, student engagement in research, and STEM disciplines in general.-Utilize NSF CIs for undergraduate STEM education to help institutions that lack computing resources for education and research experiments.-Broaden participation of high school students in STEM through NSF CIs, while attracting URM students to cybersecurity disciplines.-Increase the awareness of NSF CIs and the use of CIs for STEM education, as well as make a national impact on cybersecurity education.


Kaiqi Xiong, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; Mohamed Rahouti, Fordham University, New York, NY