The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Program, an initiative of the National Security Agency, aims to increase the amount of professionals with expertise in this area.
The program is designed to identify institutions that offer a deeply technical, interdisciplinary curriculum centered on fields such as computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering. In addition, it supports the government's work to better protect cyberspace.
After what the agency said was a rigorous application and screening process, the NSA recently selected the first four schools to receive the CAE-Cyber Operations designation for the 2012-2013 academic year: Dakota State University, South Dakota; the Naval Postgraduate School, California; Northeastern University, Massachusetts; and the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma.
The NSA's new program differs from pre-existing courses in that it integrates the relevant academic disciplines, with a focus on technology and the techniques associated with specialized cyber operations - collection, exploitation, and response, for example.
Students and faculty members will not engage in actual U.S. government intelligence activities. The goal is to expose students to the scientific and intellectual foundation of cyber operations, and their connection to careers with the government.
"The nation increasingly needs professionals with highly technical cyber skills to help keep America safe today - and to help the country meet future challenges and adapt with greater agility," said Steven LaFountain, an NSA technical leader involved with the program.
Details about NSA's Centers of Academic Excellence are available online at www.nsa.gov.