UAH designated as National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by NSA and CISA

CSIA and NSA logos
Left: Courtesy CSIA | Right: Courtesy NSA

The College of Business (COB) and the Center for Cybersecurity Research and Education (CCRE) at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), have announced the National Security Agency (NSA) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have re-designated UAH as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD).

UAH, a part of The University of Alabama System, is also a National Center of Academic Excellence in Research (CAE-R). Only 48 schools in the United States hold both the CAE-CD and CAE-R designations.

The CAE-CD designation process requires a review of two elements: a cybersecurity program of study and an established center for cybersecurity at the university. The UAH COB and the CCRE worked jointly to complete the designation process, led by Dr. Tommy Morris, the founding director of the UAH CCRE. UAH was originally designated in 2007 and has remained continuously designated since then. This is the university’s second renewal.

The validation process included a review of the master’s in Cybersecurity degree program's Management Track. Dr. Fan Tseng and Dr. Jae Park in the UAH College of Business helped work on the submission of information to support the re-affirmation as well.

“The National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense designation is a symbol of quality that tells students and employers that UAH cybersecurity degrees are mapped to knowledge units based on national standards, that the university implements a continuous improvement process to manage degree programs and that UAH contributes to the cybersecurity community locally and nationally,” explains Dr. Morris.

“The CAE-CD designation also makes UAH eligible for many grant programs, including the National Science Foundation CyberCorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) and the Department of Defense Cybersecurity Scholarship Program (DoD CySP),” he notes. “UAH students benefit greatly from this designation. Every year we offer 10-15 scholarships directly tied to this designation.”

The CAE-CD program is managed by NSA's National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Program Office. Federal partners include CISA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)/National Initiative on Cybersecurity Education (NICE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense Office of the Chief Information Officer (DoD-CIO) and U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM).

The program aims to create and manage a collaborative cybersecurity educational program with community colleges, colleges and universities. The goal of the initiative is to establish standards for cybersecurity curriculum and academic excellence, including competency development among students and faculty; community outreach and leadership in professional development; integrating cybersecurity practice within the institution across academic disciplines and actively engaging in solutions to challenges facing cybersecurity education.

Academic institutions may choose from three designations. The designation process is a combination of elements related to the institution focused on outputs for determining academic achievement. This combination assures that the institution meets the desired characteristics of a CAE institution, and that the academic delivery to students is producing the qualified workforce needed by the nation.

“Reducing vulnerabilities in our national cyber infrastructure and ensuring that there are capable cyber professionals to defend that infrastructure from attack is more important now than it ever has been,” notes Dr. D.J. Hovermale, a clinical assistant professor in the UAH College of Business. “By renewing UAH's designation as a Center of Academic Excellence for Cyber Defense Education, the NSA is confirming that the cybersecurity program at UAH is in a position to help achieve both of these goals. Students can have confidence that they will learn what they need to be successful in their cyber careers if they attend UAH, and employers can have confidence that the UAH grads they hire will have what it takes to help them achieve their respective missions. This is a pretty big deal."

CAE-designated institutions must complete validation of a program of study, which is comprised of a series of courses and experiences that a student can reasonably accomplish in the course of attaining a degree or completing a certificate.

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS) leads the U.S. government in cryptology that encompasses both signals intelligence (SIGINT) insights and cybersecurity products and services and enables computer network operations to gain a decisive advantage for the nation and its allies.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for strengthening cybersecurity and infrastructure protection across all levels of government, coordinating cybersecurity programs with the U.S. and improving the government's cybersecurity protections against private and nation-state hackers.



Popular Stories