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NSA names Western as Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense

A student views code on his monitor and laptop

One of only two universities on the Western Slope with the designation.

The National Security Agency (NSA) recently designated Western Colorado University as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense for the breadth and quality of its Information Security (InfoSec) curriculum.

Even with so much of the world’s critical information now housed online, Western is one of only two institutions on Colorado’s Western Slope with the sought-after title. The five-year designation gives InfoSec graduates a clear advantage in a job market that currently has about 14,000 open positions in Colorado alone.

“Western’s Information Security emphasis is foundational and technical in nature,” Associate Professor of Computer Science Marc Rubin said. “It’s a very hands-on degree program; students not only learn the theory behind cybersecurity but also practice using the tools and techniques of the trade.”

 

A student works on some code on his laptop during a computer science class.

 

Western InfoSec students are encouraged to pursue industry-standard certifications, such as Security+, and many of Western’s InfoSec courses prepare students with the skills and knowledge needed to pass such exams. Students also participate in online cybersecurity “hacking” competitions like Deloitte’s Hackazon and the National Cyber League, among others.

Today, students who have completed Western’s InfoSec program work at places like Intel, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin. One student who interned with the NSA was offered five different positions at the Agency after graduation, three of which were classified.

Due to the high demand for cybersecurity professionals, Western InfoSec students enjoy significant scholarship opportunities that can cover a large share of the in-state tuition for students with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Students with lower GPAs can receive scholarships of $1,000 or $3,000 per semester.

“Earning this designation has been a multi-year process,” Rubin said. “And now the real work begins.”

Learn more about Western’s Information Security emphasis.

 

Author Credit: Seth Mensing
Photo Credit: Courtesy

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