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Northrop Grumman Foundation Renews Commitment to UMD's Honors College Cybersecurity Program with $2.76M Gift

November 23, 2015

Crystal Brown, UMD, 301-405-4618
Mark Root, Northrop Grumman, 703-280-2739

Funding Will Spur Program Growth by Supporting Additional Staffing, Programming,
Scholarships and Facilities for Upperclassmen

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland today announced a renewed commitment of $2.76 million from the Northrop Grumman Foundation to its Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) program. 

The ACES program – the nation’s first honors program in cybersecurity – was launched by UMD's Honors College in 2012 with support from the Northrop Grumman Foundation to address a critical, national strategic need. Since its inception, the ACES program has offered 65 percent more credits than originally targeted and served 50 percent more students than originally anticipated. ACES began as a living-learning program for freshman and sophomore students. With this renewed commitment, the program will now expand to offer a more advanced cybersecurity curriculum to juniors and seniors, culminating in an ACES minor.

"The support that the Northrop Grumman Foundation has committed in support of the ACES program shows how important this type of workforce is to the nation," says Mary Ann Rankin, UMD's senior vice president and provost. "This generous gift will allow us to continue to educate and train our students to be future cybersecurity leaders and meet the growing needs in the nation and state."

"We are delighted with the growth of the ACES program and the surge of interest among students from several dozen different disciplines at the University of Maryland," says Sandra Evers-Manly, President, Northrop Grumman Foundation. "We hope that our continued support will help the program reach and attract an even greater and more diverse population of students."

The gift from the Northrop Grumman Foundation will allow ACES to prepare a larger, more diverse student body for leadership roles in this burgeoning field through extended instruction and program administration; an enhanced experiential learning environment; scholarships for recruiting and retaining a diverse, high-achieving student body; and dedicated spaces on campus for the ACES program to thrive. 

"The ACES curriculum delivers a unique, interdisciplinary perspective of cybersecurity across many sectors with an emphasis on experiential learning. This breadth of expertise is a crucial foundation for the program's success in forming future cybersecurity leaders," says ACES Director Michel Cukier. "The support from Northrop Grumman will allow us to expand our current breadth by hiring full-time instructors and engaging experts from industry and government, developing a larger infrastructure for experiential learning and in turn, giving us the ability to adapt to cybersecurity’s changing demands."

One of the highest priorities of the Honors College is to recruit an academically high-achieving and diverse student body. With the additional funding, UMD will expand its recruitment efforts, including collaboration with the UMD ROTC programs and campus veterans, increased visibility in Maryland community colleges, and investment in K-12 cybersecurity-related programs. 

In addition, the Northrop Grumman ACES Scholarship Program will offer scholarships to first-generation college students and those with financial need, as well as veteran, ROTC and transfer students. New scholarship funds will also support study-abroad opportunities, and travel to national conferences and competitions. 

The Honors College will also launch a new ACES cybersecurity lab. This research-grade facility will offer upper-level students fully isolated, state-of-the-art technology and software to model the latest security challenges through direct instruction, team-building activities and independent and group study.

The University of Maryland was recently awarded the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities' top award – the Connections Award – which honors an institution working to build connections between innovation and entrepreneurship, talent development, and social, community and cultural development. UMD was named a winner in part for its ACES partnership with the Northrop Grumman Foundation to help supply trained workers to serve the cyber community.

To learn more about the ACES program, visit

About the Honors College
The Honors College is home to UMD’s highly acclaimed living-learning programs for students with exceptional academic talents. The Honors College welcomes students into a close-knit community of faculty and intellectually gifted undergraduates committed to acquiring a broad and balanced education. The Honors College features small classes taught by an outstanding faculty who encourage discussion and foster innovative thinking. For more information, visit