UIUC receives 'Cyber Defense' designation by National Security Agency's Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity

7/27/2023 Cassandra Smith

Written by Cassandra Smith

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has received a designation that demonstrates its continued commitment to cybersecurity education on a national level. 

UIUC was awarded a “Cyber Defense” designation by the National Security Agency’s Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity program. UIUC representatives were honored during the recent 10th annual symposium in Seattle. 

Academic institutions earning the designation are required to outline excellence in faculty, student, curriculum, and continuous improvement. In addition, the institution must also demonstrate evidence of a sound cybersecurity posture and plans, as well as show how the institution is improving the practice of cybersecurity in the larger community it serves. 

"The NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense designation provides external validation of the incredible work being done at UIUC by our talented faculty, researchers, students, and staff. It also positions our students with the knowledge and skills needed to protect organizations and improve national security,” said Casey W. O’Brien, assistant director for cyber defense education and training at UIUC’s Information Trust Institute. 

This designation was first bestowed on UIUC in 2000. In addition to “Cyber Defense,” UIUC has also held the “Cyber Research” design since 2008. In addition, faculty and staff from UIUC are pursuing a third designation in “Cyber Operations”, which O’Brien said is the most technically rigorous of all three. These designations not only show a recipient’s commitment to the cybersecurity field but also provide opportunities for new grants/contracts and pathways for UIUC students to move into Department of Defense jobs upon graduation. 

O’Brien said achieving the designation required support from the Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering departments, The Grainger College of Engineering, the Registrar's Office, and others on campus who helped secure this honor for the university. 

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This story was published July 27, 2023.