BSC, NDSU named as cybersecurity leaders by feds

BSC, NDSU named as cybersecurity leaders by feds

Distinction places the community college and research university among the nation’s best


As society becomes more connected than ever through the still-emerging Digital Age, more of those connections will require heightened security as private data becomes attached to any device with a digital connection.

Forecasting the rise of the digital world and the problems that could come with it, the National Security Agency developed the National Centers for Academic Excellence in Information program in 1998. The goal of the program, in the NSA’s own words, is to “reduce vulnerability in our national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and producing professionals with cyber defense expertise.”

Recently, both Bismarck State College and North Dakota State University were named among those having the distinction of being a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) and Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) for associate degree education and research, respectively. In order to receive their designations, the schools had to meet various, strict requirements including a cyber defense academic curriculum path; student skill development and assessment; a “center” for cyber education; cyber faculty qualifications and records of courses taught; cyber defense as a multidisciplinary practice at the institution in question; an institutional security plan; cyber outreach and collaboration beyond the institution; and producing graduate-level students in cyber defense. Each requirement contains numerous criteria.

Both the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security conveyed the designations, noting that the schools’ abilities to “meet the increasing demands of program criteria will serve the nation well in contributing to the protection of the National Information Infrastructure.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the information security field will see a 28 percent projected growth outlook – well ahead of other sectors – expected in the coming decade. Likewise, Forbes magazine reported in 2017 that cybersecurity-related jobs remained as a field with a massive skills gap. Other reports, issued by industry leaders Cisco, Symantec and ISACA, respectively noted that the field of cybersecurity would need 1 million, 1.5 million, and 2 million more professionals around the globe in the coming years. The designations for BSC and NDSU formally recognize the educational programming currently being offered there, as well as opening the door to potential funding through the National Science Foundation.

“This designation puts a stamp of approval on our program and essentially shows that BSC is teaching the curriculum and supporting the opportunities and extracurricular activities that our students need to be qualified to defend the nation. Because we have this designation, our graduates now are qualified for federal jobs in the cyber field,” said Matthew Frohlich, BSC associate professor of computers and office technology.

The goal of the CAE-CD program is to reduce vulnerability in our national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and producing professionals with cyber defense expertise. The CAE-CDE designation is for associate, bachelor, masters and doctoral programs that meet the CAE-CD program’s stringent criterion.

BSC is one of the higher education leads for K-20W cyber education in North Dakota, and offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Cybersecurity and Computer Networks, a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Cybersecurity and Information Technology as well as numerous industry certifications.

In July 2018, BSC entered into an educational partnership with global cybersecurity leader Palo Alto Networks expanding the college’s cyber education programs and enabling BSC to scale online and classroom cybersecurity offerings.

“There is a critical shortage of professionals with cybersecurity skills and the national cyber strategy highlights the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace,” said BSC President Larry C. Skogen. “Just as the federal government continues to invest in programs that build the domestic talent pipeline, BSC will continue to be the polytechnic leader in North Dakota, as well as nationally, for cybersecurity resources and education.”

NDSU has led the state for cybersecurity and computer science at the four-year and research levels for decades. Not only does the university’s Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research develop software and IT practices, but it leads the state in the creation of new knowledge in the field. Additionally, the university hosts a yearly cybersecurity conference that brings leaders from throughout the industry to speak, present and offer networking opportunities.

North Dakota University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott noted that the designations proved the rigor, integrity and application for the schools’ programs.

“Cybersecurity has shown major growth potential since the first computer was hooked up to the Internet,” Hagerott said. “With billions of people and tens of billions of devices connected now, these designations at BSC and NDSU will allow our programs to flourish even further. Not only are our students able to find immediate use for their knowledge, skills and abilities, but our workforce, but N.D. businesses will be able to recruit for their needs right here knowing they’re getting the best possible candidates.”