The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering announced on Wednesday, October 8, 2019, a three-year collaboration with Target that includes a $250,000 donation from Target to fund programs that will educate the next generation of cybersecurity experts. The collaboration will kick off tonight at Target’s Cyber Security Day at the University of Minnesota, an event for students interested in cybersecurity careers.
The donation, provided by Target’s Cyber Security department, is Target’s first major gift to the University’s College of Science and Engineering. The gift helps build course curriculum and offers hands-on information security experiences, student scholarships, fellowships, and grants, as well as opportunities for students to network with cybersecurity experts.
“We’re grateful to Target for supporting the University in our efforts to build the pipeline of high-tech workers in this state and around the world,” said Mostafa Kaveh, dean of the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering. “When industry and academia work together to solve problems, great things can happen. We look forward to collaborating with Target for many years.”
One of the highlights of the new collaboration is a year-long, in-depth capstone project in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering where the University and Target will provide students with hands-on technical experience prior to graduation. In this course, the instructor and students will work with leadership at Target to solve a real-world industry problem and develop innovative solution considerations.
“Over the next 10 years, it’s predicted that half of all cybersecurity positions in the U.S. will be vacant,” said Rich Agostino, Chief Information Security Officer at Target. “As one of the largest employers in the Twin Cities, we know we have a responsibility to help build the cybersecurity talent pipeline. Our team has been working closely with the University of Minnesota on a unique collaboration that not only helps educate the next generation of cybersecurity leaders but also provides training and leadership opportunities to Target’s team.”
Target’s donation also includes funding to directly support students. Target will award seven undergraduate student scholarships at $5,000 each that started with the Fall 2019 semester.
“I’m honored to be one of the first Target scholarship recipients,” said Melanie Humphrey, a University of Minnesota junior majoring in computer science who will be interning at Target next summer. “The Target scholarship process confirmed my decision to pursue a career in cybersecurity. I was excited to learn that I could have an impact on everything from protecting our private data to national security.”
In addition to the capstone course and scholarships, Target will provide funding to computer science-related student groups for events such as conferences, workshops, and hackathons.