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Press Release

Cleared for Success: Cal Poly Announces Unprecedented Cybersecurity Workforce Development Program

Contact: Kayvan Chinichian, California Cybersecurity Institute
[email protected]

Next Generation of Learn by Doing to Have National Impact by Preparing Students to Solve Complex Cybersecurity Problems while Bridging Critical Staffing Gaps in the Public and Private Sector

SAN LUIS OBISPO — Cal Poly has announced the launch of a comprehensive fundraising campaign to support Cleared for Success (CFS), a landmark workforce development initiative that will cultivate a talent pipeline of highly skilled STEM students interested in pursuing cybersecurity careers in the public service and national defense sectors.

Cal Poly’s groundbreaking CFS program aims to transform the national security landscape and the future of Learn by Doing. Hosted by the California Cybersecurity Institute (CCI) at Cal Poly, the program will introduce students from the Noyce School of Applied Computing in the College of Engineering (CENG) to foundational security concepts; assist them in their professional journeys as future cybersecurity professionals; and provide them the opportunity to network with leading employers recruiting for this specialized skillset.

While gaining invaluable practical experience through internships and apprenticeships, students will learn the importance of obtaining and maintaining necessary credentials such as security clearances and cybersecurity certifications and will assist in those processes — ultimately improving career placement outcomes for hundreds of highly qualified students in well-paying fields in the public and private sectors.

For many prospective graduates, careers in cybersecurity in the public or private sector are often under-considered due to security clearance requirements and the lengthy process typically involved in being cleared. CFS addresses and lifts this potential barrier, creating access to well-paying opportunities for undergraduates who may not have considered pursuing work that requires a security clearance.

“This program will provide students with an unprecedented Learn by Doing opportunity as they collaborate with industry leaders on real-world projects in the field,” said Bill Britton, Cal Poly’s vice president for information technology, chief information officer, and director of the California Cybersecurity Institute. “Cybersecurity has become the frontline of national defense, and cyberthreats are rapidly evolving to incorporate emerging trends such as generative AI. Cal Poly graduates are uniquely positioned to anticipate the next frontier in cybersecurity intelligence threats to solve high-impact problems at the national level.”

The new program will build students’ competencies and confidence in this highly specialized arena and allow for opportunities to engage in additional cybersecurity training, research, and potentially work on classified projects under the mentorship of cleared faculty.

At the nexus of theory and applied practice, the program will create new opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and unlock unprecedented opportunities for students, faculty, and national defense in the effort to build a safer world.

“A program like CFS will be very valuable in helping students get acquainted with the enigmatic clearance process. The earlier that students receive exposure to concepts of security, the better positioned they will be to make decisions about coursework, internships, and eventually careers they want to pursue,” said Dr. Chris Lupo, founding director of the Noyce School of Applied Computing. “The CFS program will be a benefit to both our students and our external partners that want to hire professionals that need clearances.”

Nationally, the cybersecurity field is growing nearly twice as fast as the workforce, and demand has only continued to accelerate, with the number of cybersecurity analyst positions anticipated to increase by 33% through 2031.

 As companies struggle to recruit for this unique skillset to keep pace with ballooning demand, Cal Poly’s visionary new program will be the first in the CSU system and in the state to address the industry’s resource deficit by supplying the public sector with a diverse workforce of the nation’s brightest talent.

“This partnership is a unique opportunity for the university and a watershed moment for experiential learning,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “The cutting-edge work students will engage in will redefine the landscape and has the potential to attract new investment that will accelerate the speed of innovation at the state and national levels.”

Longitudinal goals would include expanding scale and scope to support additional industries, including aerospace engineering, public health, energy, government, and beyond—the impact of which will spark new possibilities for the campus community and ignite innovation nationwide.

The university has received $1 million in foundational funding through philanthropic support to launch this initiative. Cal Poly is seeking additional funding to ensure the successful implementation of the program. To learn more or to support the Cleared for Success program with a generous gift, visit the
Cal Poly Giving page.

About Cal Poly
Cal Poly is a nationally ranked public university in San Luis Obispo, California, known for its Learn by Doing philosophy. Each year about 22,000 top-tier students at Cal Poly put knowledge into action, taking their learning outside the classroom as they prepare for careers in areas such as engineering, agriculture, science, business, humanities and the built environment. Cal Poly’s hands-on approach, small class sizes and close student-faculty mentorships result in graduates Ready Day One to impact their communities, California and the world. Visit

About the California Cybersecurity Institute
The California Cybersecurity Institute (CCI) at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, California, leads a state and national initiative to address cybersecurity challenges. By bringing together the tech community, government agencies, and educational institutions, the CCI is enhancing cybersecurity defense capabilities at Cal Poly, for the state of California, and across the nation. Visit