By Angela Scheibel and Thomas E. Polliard

New cyber risks in the operations of power infrastructure are appearing all the time. The highly interconnected power grid, and the grid’s ability to deliver reliable energy, requires cyber protections for energy delivery systems.

As indicated by the Department of Energy, “the nation’s security, economic prosperity, and the well-being our citizens depends on reliable energy infrastructure. As such, a top priority for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE) is to make the nation’s electric power grid and oil and natural gas infrastructure resilient to cyber threats.”

A seemingly growing risk to the industry is the availability of a skilled workforce to ensure the protection of these systems. That is why Salt River Project (SRP) and Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) have collaborated to develop a Cyber Security Intern Rotational Program with a focus on operational technology (OT) at SRP.  This program aims to ensure that in addition to receiving education on securing Power Systems Technology at EMCC, students also receive real world experience.

What does a rotational program look like?

Selected applicants will begin their internship in one of six cyber security focused teams. Every six months they will rotate to a different team until they have completed a minimum of four rotations. Interns will have key areas of focus for each rotation and be expected to achieve proficiency for specific technical and behavioral competencies by the end of each rotation.

Rotations and focus areas may include:

Enterprise Cyber Security Services

  • Corporate Cyber Security Awareness & Education
  • Vulnerability Management & Remediation
  • Risk Management
  • Incident Response
  • Security Operations (threat hunting and incident response)
  • Cyber Security Architecture

Power Delivery

  • SCADA Applications
  • Linux System Administration
  • Network Security
  • Data Center Operations
  • NERC CIP Compliance

 Power Generation Services

  • IT / OT Overview & Integration
  • ICS Attack Surfaces & Defense Strategies
  • ICS NERC CIP Compliance
  • ICS Security Best Practices


  • Telecommunications Network Cyber Security (TNCS) Identification, Protection, Monitoring, Response

Water Services

  • IT / OT Overview & Integration
  • SCADA Software
  • Network Security
  • Log Management

Regulatory Audit & Compliance

  • Physical / Cyber Security Standards development, implementation and assessment (NERC CIP Standards)

The future of workforce development?

At SRP, immersive, rotational experiences have proven to be successful for a variety of positions in the business and engineer functions, as they provide a relevant body of work in which to gauge an applicant’s technical and behavioral skills. The cyber security rotational internship represents a collaborative workforce development approach that helps align employers with education providers, and provides workplace experiences for students.

SRP is still finalizing the cyber security rotational program, which will tentatively be open for applicants in Fall 2018, so stay tuned for more information.

Please visit SRP Careers for additional career opportunities at SRP. For more information on EMCC’s Associate in Applied Science, IT and Power Systems Security Program, click here.

Angela Scheibel works in Cyber Security Services at Salt River Project (SRP). SRP is a community-based not-for-profit water and energy company that provides reliable, affordable water and power to more than 2 million people living in central Arizona. 

Thomas E. Polliard works as Computer Information Systems Faculty at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC). EMCC offers an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in IT and Power Systems Security program designed to help prepare students for a variety of industry-recognized information technology (IT) security certification exams and provide practical hands-on skills for the workplace.

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