State awards $600,000 to boost STEM jobs

More than $600,000 in grants to boost training programs for science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers have been awarded by Gov. Brian Sandoval's office, it announced on Thursday.

The College of Southern Nevada got the biggest of the six grants. Its award of nearly $150,000 will be used to update the school's cybersecurity program with the help of Las Vegas tech giant Switch and other data specialists across Southern Nevada. Together, they will develop five courses that include lessons on so-called ethical hacking, a skill used to enter a computer system or network on behalf of its owners to find weaknesses that a malicious hacker could exploit.

The money will also be used to build a classroom that will boost the program's enrollment capacity by 25 percent, accepting as many as 250 students.

"This grant is critical to get us the kind of modern security tools needed to train the future front line of Southern Nevada's cybersecurity defense," Michael Spangler, dean of CSN's School of Advanced & Applied Technologies, said in a statement.

Henderson was given $114,000 to create a placement program for jobs in information technology. Nevada State College, headquartered in the city's southeast foothills, was awarded $55,000 to create a horticultural science certificate program.

Three institutions in Northern Nevada also got grants: the Career College of Northern Nevada, Churchill County Library, and Western Nevada College.

Lawmakers in June allocated $2 million for the grants to be awarded over the next two fiscal years by the governor's office of science, innovation and technology. This week's round of grants is the second — the office doled out about $336,000 in October. Director Brian Mitchell said the office plans to do a third round this spring.

"We have some really great programs and we're hopeful we can show a good return on investment to continue," Mitchell said.

Contact Ana Ley at aley@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5512. Find her on Twitter: @la__ley