NYIT named center for cyber defense education

The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have designated New York Institute of Technology as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education through the 2021 academic year.

“This prestigious designation is further evidence of our focus on and leadership in cybersecurity,” said Nada Anid, dean of NYIT’s School of Engineering. “ It will help faculty vie for an even greater number of research grants and help NYIT students to secure government and private sector scholarships and careers in cyber defense.”

DHS and NSA jointly sponsor the National Centers of Academic Excellence program, which designates schools based on their degree programs and close alignment to specific cybersecurity related knowledge units, validated by subject matter experts in the field.

Along with the certification, the school along with the NSA and the National Science Foundation will also offer full scholarships to students who enroll in the Computer Science program at NYIT.

Although some faculty at NYIT have already been working in different capacities with the Defense Department, Anid said, the designation will allow NYIT students to earn a certification that puts them ahead of their peers. CAE graduates help protect national security information systems, commercial networks, and critical information infrastructure in the private and public sectors.

“Now a student who enrolled in the computer science program at NYIT will be certified automatically,” Anid said. “For example, the Cisco certification can be used in the industry as well as working with the government.”

When a company bids for a government or defense contract, they often have employees get cyber security certified.

“Our students don’t have to get certified because they’ve already taken the courses at our school and they’ll be ready to take on whatever project they’re assigned,” Anid said.

She said NYIT is the first and only college on Long Island and one of eight in the state to receive the designation. Anid said the college was also fortunate that it isn’t competing with national heavyweights like Michigan Institute of Technology or the Georgia Institute of Technology.

“You don’t have to go that far. New York University has the same designation. This means that we can now work together you know,” Anid said. “We’re very excited. There won’t be spies on campus but our students can work at the NSA and the FBI and serve our country in different ways.”

NYIT’s certification process began in 2012. The school had to meet three criteria before it was granted the stamp of approval by the national agencies, Anid said.

“We have been certified for two other standards but there was a big overhaul for the approval process and we had to wait another year,” she said.

She said the school sent the certification application in November, the two agencies had questions which the school promptly remedied.

“They looked the overall Computer Science program, student activities, they looked at our individual courses and our engagement with the business community,” Anid said.

Karen Leuschner, NSA’s National CAE program manager, said in a statement that the school’s ability to meet the demands of the program criteria will serve the nation in contributing to the protection of the National Information Infrastructure.

“The President’s National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace addresses the critical shortage of professionals with these skills and highlights the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace,” she added.

“The demand is so high for cyber security professionals that there is room for everyone in this environment that we would like to talk about,” Anid said.

In the fall of 2012, 2,526 students — graduate and undergraduate — were enrolled at NYIT. This semester, the number has grown to 3,223 students.

Two professors from the school also received a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency $513,670 grant to develop a collection of effective keyboard-based biometric algorithms that analyze free text input in a variety of ways in order to capture the unique mechanics of how a user types (atomic keystroke dynamics), the unique aspects of how the user composes text and uses language (cogni-linguistic features), and the demographic classifications to which the user belongs.

Anid has also been calling for scholarships to every student who enrolls in a computer science program across America.

In March, Anid penned a op-ed column on the Fox News’ website, calling for the creation of scholarships to aid the cyber security programs across America.

“What’s needed is a more ambitious scholarship program, similar in scope to the GI Bill. All American students should know that if they become qualified cybersecurity professionals, the government will help pay for their education,” Anid wrote. “Private-sector businesses such as technology firms and military contractors should establish related initiatives, offering to pay off education loans for students who accept in-house cybersecurity positions.”

At NYIT, the computer science program has been made available to any student within their major so that students won’t have to pay extra fees for taking the courses, Anid said. The 30 students currently enrolled in the computer science program will earn two of the standards needed to earn the certification.

“This certification will open doors for grants,” she said. “We’ve forged a name for ourselves and this grant will help us bring some of the best talent to NYIT.”

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Adedamola Agboola

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