Cedarville Designated NSA Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations

By Brianna Saucier

Cedarville was recognized as a Center of Academic Excellence, CAE, in Cybersecurity on June 6. The designation was given by the National Security Agency (NSA) at a ceremony at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Only twenty schools in America hold this title, placing Cedarville in the same category as prominent military schools like West Point and the Air Force Academy. It took the combined efforts of the Computer Science sub-department faculty over five years to achieve the title.

Hamman, who is now director of the new Center for the Advancement of Cybersecurity, led the department toward accomplishing their goal. He was assisted by Dr. Keith Shomper as well as Professors of Computer Science Dr. Dave Gallagher and Dudenhofer.

“Professor Dudenhofer was so instrumental in us receiving this designation,”  Hamman said. “He is doing cybersecurity research for his Ph.D.… [and] created from scratch a software reverse engineering class so that we could meet the academic content requirements.  Going up on stage together to receive the certificate was a great feeling since we had worked really hard as a team to achieve this goal.”

To attain the title of CAE was no simple task. According to Shomper, Cedarville had to meet ten of the mandatory categories in their teaching as well as ten of the 16 additional ones. The team applied for it three years in a row, finally succeeding this past summer in their efforts.

“It was a long road to get there,” Shomper said. “We invested a lot, created three new classes, added content we were missing to the program, added a student cyber competition and encouraged our professors to get PhDs in the cyber area to build our expertise. It took a whole department emphasis in this area to make this happen.”

Hamman, Dudenhofer, Shomper, and Gallagher used the first year they applied for the designation as an opportunity to evaluate where they needed to make changes in the program. They built off the feedback from the NSA to improve in two years.

The certificate commemorating the efforts of the Cedarville staff is now on display in the Engineering and Science Building by room 243. A duplicate is also visible outside Hamman’s office door.

To have national validation of cybersecurity academics at Cedarville not only gives the students and faculty credibility, but it opens a wide array of doors for undergraduates looking for job opportunities.

The jobs available to students in cybersecurity are not confined to government work. According to Shomper, almost every modern business has computers running their money, holding their clientele information, and containing details of the inner workings of the company — and they need a way to secure this private data.

To assist students in preparing for these job opportunities, Shomper says the department is working to find more internships for them by using the faculty’s connections.

According to Shomper, the motivation behind the professors’ determination to obtain the CAE honor is rooted in their joint service in the United States Air Force.

Since 2012, Hamman and the department had been dreaming of solidifying their vision. Now that the department has been nationally certified, they credit their success to God.

“To see it become a reality over the past few months, and knowing the way it all happened through the Lord’s sovereignty, and recognizing all the teamwork that went into it, is really incredible,” Hamman said. “Now we are all eager to see how the Lord is going to use this program for His glory over the next several years.”

Brianna Saucier is a sophomore English major and Campus reporter for Cedars. She enjoys soccer, photography, and Army ROTC.

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