FORCCE-ATE – A force for cyber good

Web Name: FORCCE-ATE – A force for cyber good






Fortifying Cybersecurity and Computing Education through ATE GrantsLearn MoreApply Now

The need for a highly skilled cybersecurity and IT workforce is well documented and unequivocal. Demand for security skills, once limited primarily to government and the defense industry, has spread throughout the economy (Burning Glass, 2019). Job growth is predicted to continue to outpace the number of available qualified workforce (, 2020). Community and Technical Colleges respond to this need through their education of the skilled technical workforce. This project aims to strengthen and grow a specific component of that workforce, namely the nations cybersecurity/computing professionals. The projects approach is to work to increase the quality of the requests for external support that these institutions seek to improve cybersecurity education at their campuses. Towards this end the project investigators plan to attract a diversity of community and technical college teams, composed of faculty, grant writers, and selected administrators and staff and provide team-based professional development designed to increase the competitiveness and innovativeness of each teams proposed efforts in support of the education of the cybersecurity/computing skilled technical workforce.


In each year, up totwelve community and technical college teamsof two faculty members and a grant writer will be accepted through an application process to participate in this team-based professional development and mentoring program. Each team will be carefully matched with and supported by a seasoned mentor who has been trained through a series of coaching sessions by the leadership team. Essential elements of the program, including mentor training and coaching skills, pre-workshop mentee preparation, a multi-day workshop, and post-workshop webinars coupled with team mentoring throughout the entire process, are designed to help participants crystalize their innovative ideas and develop competitive proposals for external support.

About the Team

Elizabeth K. Hawthorne, PhD

Principal Investigator (PI)

After nearly 26 years, Dr. Hawthorne (Beth) retired as Senior Professor Emerita of Computer Science and Cybersecurity from Union County College in Cranford, NJ. She currently teaches online cybersecurity courses for Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ. She earned her Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL and holds industry certifications in cybersecurity (CISSP) and digital forensics (CCFE).

Vera Zdravkovich, PhD

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI)

Dr. Zdravkovich retired from Prince George’s Community College as Academic Vice President Emeritus. She has extensive teaching experience at the collegiate level and administrative experience as the Department Chair of Physical Sciences and then as the Dean of STEM and Health at Prince George’s Community College. She earned a baccalaureate degree in chemical engineering from the University of Belgrade in Yugoslavia and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Barbara Huffman de Belón, EdD

Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI)

Dr. Belón received her doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University, in 1984 specializing in teaching methodologies and curriculum development within the Movement Sciences field. While there, she developed an interest in computers and programming and redirected her career to the software industry.

Blake Urbach


Blake Urbach, M.S., is the Principal Consultant of Preferred Program Evaluations, a consulting firm specializing in the evaluation of federal grants. She has 18 years of experience planning and performing program evaluations for the purpose of informing educational and social policy.

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PI: Elizabeth K. Hawthorne, PhDCo-PI: Vera Zdravkovich, PhDCo-PI: Barbara Huffman de Belón, EdDEvaluator: Blake Urbach, Preferred Program Evaluations

This material is based upon work supported by The National Science Foundation under ATE grant #2055250. 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.

To learn more about ATE, please visit theNSF ATE program home page.


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