Innovate Cyber

Innovation, creativity, active learning, & analytical and critical thinking are top skills that employers in the cybersecurity field want. COVA CCI wants to help you develop these skills while you resolve important issues faced by local companies and higher education institutions.

As part of the INNOVATE Cyber spring 2023 cohort, you will work as a team to identify a challenge or issue related to cybersecurity. Then, using the design thinking approach to problem-solving, you will be empowered to express your ideas, think creatively, and research within a high-impact team environment to identify human-centered solutions. Design thinking focuses on creating innovators--a human-centered method for creative action that leans heavily on empathy, observation, interviewing, and brainstorming.

You will participate in field work (observing or asking questions of your client), dig into key topics, test ideas, challenge assumptions, and lend a diverse perspective to the issue identified. You will present your work at a final showcase to your at the end of the project timeline.

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INNOVATE Cyber is a high-impact, experiential learning opportunity where students use a design thinking mindset to learn and resolve cybersecurity challenges through a human centered perspective.
Want to learn more about what you will produce? Take a look at our spring 2020 and fall 2020 student projects by clicking on the button below.
  • INNOVATE Cyber will help students develop the human-centered and empathetic skills necessary to succeed within the cybersecurity and IT fields. Your experience will focus on analytical thinking ▪ innovation ▪ active learning ▪ learning strategies ▪ creativity ▪ originality ▪ initiative ▪ critical thinking ▪ resilience ▪ flexibility ▪ complex problem-solving ▪ social influence ▪ leadership ▪ emotional intelligence ▪ positiveness
  • INNOVATE Cyber comes with an award package that includes a $1,000 project award for the fall 2021 semester, a showcase event, and the opportunity for selected teams to continue to innovate beyond this experience.
  • INNOVATE Cyber is a competitive process limited to undergraduate students enrolled in public Virginia institutions. No previous experience with design thinking is necessary. This is a three-tiered program based on level of readiness—novice (entry level students); intermediate (some work experience related to IT or cybersecurity); and advanced (work experience in IT or cybersecurity, and certifications). All readiness levels are invited to apply.


  • Pre-work Activities (readings, short assignments, totaling about 10 hours)
  • INNOVATE Cyber Launch Event: Thurs, January 11, 2024 - 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
  • All-group meetings weekly on Thursdays from 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
  • Weekly design team meetings scheduled based on group availability (required)
  • INNOVATE Cyber Pitch & Showcase Event: Thurs, April 18, 5:30 - 7:00 pm
  • Readings & virtual work
  • INNOVATE Cyber final prototype and team website

*Note: All meetings and events will take place virtually via Zoom