WATERVILLE, MAINE, May 2023— Thomas College recently finalized an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education to launch Project Sentinel, a focused effort to increase the state’s trained cybersecurity workforce. Through the advocacy efforts of Senator Collins and Senator King, Thomas College is receiving $974,000 over three years to support students pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees in cybersecurity and related fields.
Funding will be used to provide scholarships, support student internship opportunities, offset the cost of certification and licensure, strengthen home and business cybersecurity measures through community outreach, and add critical technology infrastructure.
Scholarships for both undergraduate and graduate students will be available beginning in the fall 2023 semester.
“Project Sentinel is aligned with Thomas College’s longstanding commitment to first-generation and low-income students as well as those from rural Maine as it increases access to specialized degree programs for traditionally underrepresented students,” said Laurie Lachance, Thomas College President. “Leveraging the potential of those in our local communities to meet industry demand in the growing and crucial arena of cybersecurity positions us well to evolve along with the changing needs of the workforce. We could not be more grateful for Congress’ investment in both the potential of the students we serve and the workforce wellness of our great state. Thank you to Senator Collins, Senator King, and their colleagues for recognizing the potential this opportunity represents and for advocating on our behalf.”
Project Sentinel will build a pipeline for qualified students into Thomas College’s existing undergraduate and graduate degree programs in cybersecurity, computer science, and computer information systems. Additionally, Project Sentinel will develop and deploy web-based resources and virtual consulting to enhance digital security measures and practices for individuals and businesses.
“Cyberattacks pose a grave risk to our national security, intellectual property, personal data, and public safety. Recent high-profile attacks have demonstrated how vulnerable U.S. networks are to cyberattacks and should serve as a wake-up call about the need to address our vulnerabilities,” said Senators Collins and King. “By helping to train and expand the next generation of cybersecurity professionals in Maine, Thomas College’s Project Sentinel will directly support a broad spectrum of security and greatly improve business protection through cybersecurity of our networks, all while creating career paths to good-paying jobs for Mainers. We were proud to support funding for this program and look forward to seeing the world-class cybersecurity professionals it produces.”
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, more than one-third of the nation’s cybersecurity jobs today are unfilled due to the lack of an academically prepared workforce in this high-demand field.
Many cybersecurity jobs can be done remotely, and this provides opportunity for Maine citizens to enter the cybersecurity workforce while remaining in their local communities. These high-demand, high-paying jobs allow graduates to raise their families in Maine.
Project partners include Bangor Savings Bank, Kennebec Savings Bank, Tyler Technologies, JAI Software, Jobs for Maine Graduates, Central Maine Growth Council, and the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce. These companies and organizations will support Project Sentinel by helping recruit students for the program and by hosting internships, professional development, and networking opportunities for students and graduates.
“We are grateful to Senator Collins and Senator King for their leadership in bringing this critical funding to support career pathways and employment opportunities in cybersecurity, computer science, and technology-related fields for qualifying students attending Thomas College,” said JMG President and CEO Craig Larrabee.
“Investing in and retaining highly-specialized Maine talent and expertise in the field of cybersecurity and data protection is essential to keeping our consumers and businesses secure. Project Sentinel is a great opportunity for Thomas College, its students, and the State of Maine,” said Bob Montgomery-Rice, Bangor Savings Bank President and CEO.
“Project Sentinel is a transformative investment that will create new opportunities for economic growth and development in our community. By expanding access to high-quality cybersecurity education and training, this grant will help to bridge the skills gap in our local workforce, attracting new businesses and spurring innovation in emerging fields. The scholarships, internships, and outreach efforts made possible through this funding, and Thomas College’s leadership, will help to build a more resilient, diverse, and competitive economy in our region, driving growth and creating new pathways to success for our students and graduates,” Central Maine Growth Council Director of Planning, Innovation, & Economic Development.
Cybersecurity is now intrinsic to protecting our critical infrastructure, private businesses, and the public sector, along with individuals and families in the United States. These challenges from within our borders and the risks from other parts of the world continue to increase the demand for trained professionals.
About Thomas College:
U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks Thomas College as a top college in Maine for the social mobility of our graduates. Our clear career focus, including a one-of-a-kind Guaranteed Job Program™, makes it possible to advance faster in the arts and sciences, business, and education. Choose to pursue any undergraduate degree in only three years, knowing that we offer a variety of in-person or 100% online graduate degrees that you can complete in just one more year. Located in Waterville, Maine, Thomas College is your pathway to a promising future, guaranteed. For more information, visit www.thomas.edu or contact MacKenzie Riley Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-859-1313. Find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and TikTok.