Published On: Mon, Feb 13th, 2023

PBSC named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense

The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have named Palm Beach State College a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense through 2027. The CAE Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) designation is awarded to regionally accredited academic institutions that offer quality cybersecurity-related degrees and/or certificates and meet rigorous requirements to prepare students for the nation’s cybersecurity workforce.

“Earning the CAE-CD designation is a tremendous honor for PBSC and a validation of our faculty’s hard work and dedication,” said Don Gladney, Ed.D., interim dean of bachelor’s degree programs. “We precisely mapped our curriculum to industry best practices and showed evidence over a three-year period that the skills students were obtaining from us were actually in use and valued by employers. We also met the criteria of demonstrating significant community and internal involvement through our Center for Cyber Defense, sponsorship of workshops and special events, and by promoting best cyber defense practices collegewide.”

More than 700,000 cybersecurity jobs were posted by U.S. employers in 2022, according to CyberSeek. In the letter announcing the College’s CAE-CD designation, Karen Leuschner, NSA’s national CAE program manager, cited the critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals and highlighted the importance of higher education institutions, like Palm Beach State College, as part of the solution to defending America’s cyberspace.

“Your ability to meet the increasing demands of the program criteria will serve the nation well in contributing to the protection of the National Information Infrastructure,” Leuschner stated. “Education is the key to promoting these ideals.”

Palm Beach State College offers a cybersecurity pathway that includes associate and bachelor’s degrees and certificates. Students typically start with a two-year Associate in Science or Associate in Arts degree that builds the technical foundation necessary to enter PBSC’s two-year Bachelor of Applied Science degree program in Information Management with a concentration in Security and Network Assurance. People who have a degree, or need a faster route to employment, may choose from a variety of short-term College Credit Certificates.

The CAE-CD designation puts Palm Beach State in a network of other designated colleges and universities and provides distinct advantages for students and the College. Currently, over 300 U.S. institutions are National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity with designations in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD), Cyber Research (CAE-R), and Cyber Operations (CAE-CO).

“Being a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense allows us to partner with other CAE institutions to collaborate on grants, participate in research and gain access to special resources,” said Theo Owusu, D.Sc., professor of information management at PBSC. “Students will benefit from scholarships, internships, conferences, job fairs and competitions, and when they graduate, their diplomas will be stamped to show they went to a CAE-CD school, which commands high respect and interest from employers.”

The CAE-CD designation will also benefit PBSC’s recently announced partnership with the School District of Palm Beach County to enhance cybersecurity instruction and prepare students for careers. The Palm Beach Collaborative Cyber Pathway Project, funded by a $1 million-plus grant from the Florida Department of Education, will align the school district’s curriculum with that of PBSC, improve technology in some high schools and provide professional development and resources for K-12 teachers and PBSC professors.

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