Networking, cybersecurity programs receive nearly $200K

Fri Apr 7, 2017 at 09:58 AM

There are not enough training opportunities in Arkansas to meet the demand for trained technicians in networking and cybersecurity.  This is especially true for people who live in rural areas such as northern Arkansas.  A Northark team has plans to increase workers in high-demand networking fields with a cybersecurity focus.  The team wrote a grant proposal of how they intend to positively affect the workforce.

Their efforts have led to North Arkansas College being selected as one of four other community colleges in the nation to receive a grant from the Advanced Technological Education program through the National Science Foundation (NSF).  The College will receive a three year grant in the amount of $199,341.  The grant runs from June 1, 2017, to May 31, 2020.

The team is composed of Craig Cates, information technology instructor, Cheryl Keymer, department chair of business and information technology, Dr. Laura Berry, dean of arts, sciences, business and information technology and Nikki Davidson, director of online learning and instructional support.  A National Science Foundation program called Mentor-Connect provided a mentor and resources to help write the grant.

“We are thrilled to receive this highly competitive grant from the National Science Foundation.  We worked with a very involved “advisory” group called a Business/Industry Leadership Team, and the members have given us great input,” Dr. Laura Berry, dean of art, science and business and information technology commented, 

With more businesses moving part or all of their IT to the cloud, educational delivery options are limitless and allow Northark to expand delivery methods of existing Information Technology/Network Systems Administration curricula such as online and remote options to better serve off-campus sites, rural areas and high schools. 

Northark’s six-county service includes Boone, Newton, Carroll, Madison, Marion and Searcy counties in Arkansas.  Some areas in the local vicinity experience bandwidth limitations.  The Team will identify locations with sufficient bandwidth and computer access to host classes or provide access to computers for students.

A new IT/Cyber internship course will be created and 12 interns will be placed at local businesses and high schools.  An Academic/Career Coach will add support for students and underserved minorities.  

Other NSF grant recipients were:

Central Carolina Community College, Sanford, North Carolina

Alamance Community College, Graham, North Carolina

Westchester Community College, Valhalla, New York


For more information on the networking and cybersecurity educational offerings at Northark, contact Craig Cates, information technology instructor at

"Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation."

This award is subject to the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) award term entitled, Reporting Subawards and Executive Compensation, which has been incorporated into the NSF Terms and Conditions referenced above.  

North Arkansas College is committed to providing an educational and work environment for its students, faculty, and staff that is free from sexual discrimination including sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual violence. No form of sexual discrimination will be tolerated. See the full North Arkansas College Title IX Policy and Procedures for the specific definitions of sexual harassment and sexual violence, including examples of such conduct.