July 15 — Five new schools have been selected for the National Security Agency’s National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program, which was designed to cultivate more U.S. cyber professionals in an increasingly demanding and ever-changing global environment.
After a rigorous application and screening process, the following schools qualified to receive the CAE-Cyber Operations designation for the 2014-2019 academic years:
• New York University (New York);
• Towson University (Maryland);
• The United States Military Academy (New York);
• The University of Cincinnati (Ohio); and
• The University of New Orleans (Louisiana).
This elite program, which now has a total of thirteen schools, complements the more than 100 existing centers of academic excellence (CAEs) in information assurance research and information assurance education – jointly overseen by NSA and the Department of Homeland Security.
An outgrowth of the President’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), the Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program identifies institutions that have a deeply technical, interdisciplinary curriculum centered on fields such as computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering. The agency has long worked with schools to improve education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
In addition, the Cyber Operations Program offers participants opportunities to apply their learning or enhance their teaching in a summer internship program at NSA. However, participating students and faculty members do not engage in actual U.S. government intelligence activities.
Steven LaFountain, the Dean of NSA’s College of Cyber, said legal and ethical issues in cybersecurity are a mandatory and vital part of becoming a CAE in Cyber Operations.
“In the application process and in all collaboration with selected schools, the importance of integrity and compliance is always paramount,” he said. “Cybersecurity technical skills are increasingly important in national defense, but it’s equally important to operate within the bounds of the law and Constitution.”
Topics required of CAE Cyber Operations schools are routinely taught in many colleges and universities, but not together in a single program. This initiative seamlessly integrates the material into a holistic program to help students better understand how they could someday help to defend the nation. Summer interns must undergo background checks and obtain temporary, top-secret security clearances.
Applications to become a designated CAE in Cyber Operations are evaluated annually (due by January 15each year). Designations are for five years and all schools across the country can compete to join each year.
Details about NSA’s Centers of Academic Excellence are available online at www.nsa.gov/academia.