University of New Orleans computer science professor Vassil Roussev will use a two-year $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to improve the delivery of cybersecurity education. The development of an automated platform will allow instructors to spend more time teaching students and less time on managing and grading assignments.

“Realistic hands-on experiences in the lab are key to building strong cybersecurity skills for the real world,” said Roussev, the grant’s principal investigator. “It takes a substantial effort on the part of the instructor to create, monitor and grade dozens of student lab assignments throughout the course.”

The Automated Platform for Cyber Security Learning and Experimentation (AutoCUE) project seeks to dramatically improve the efficiency of instruction by providing a language to specify lessons and exercises, and by automating most of the mundane, time-consuming management tasks behind the scenes, Roussev said. The platform also gives the instructor the ability to embed hints and sub-tasks within the lessons to create more personalized experiences.

“Ultimately the successful implementation of the project will allow cybersecurity educators to spend more time working with students and developing class materials, which they will also be able to easily share with colleagues,” Roussev said.

The University of New Orleans Department of Computer Science is a designated National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations and Information Assurance Research by the National Security Agency.