University of Pittsburgh
June 27, 2007

Pitt Re-Designated a Center of Excellence for Cyber Security Education By the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security

Information assurance education cited as contribution to the nation's cyberspace security
Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-For its effectiveness in supporting the federal government's priority on securing the country's cyberspace, the University of Pittsburgh once again earned designation from the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAEIAE).

Pitt joins approximately 30 other schools as a CAEIAE, among them fellow re-designees Boston University, Syracuse University, and the United States Military Academy at West Point and newly designated Indiana University. Pitt and the other CAEIAEs were recognized June 5 during the annual conference of the Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education in Boston.

Pitt's renewed designation spans the academic years 2007-12; its previous certification was for the 2004-07 school years.

"This is a significant recognition of the School of Information Sciences' important accomplishments in information security," said Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor James V. Maher. "SIS Dean Ron Larsen, SIS faculty member James Joshi, and the members of the curriculum team are to be congratulated on this designation."

Central to Pitt's re-designation is the Security Assured Information Systems (SAIS) track of study offered through the graduate programs in Information Science and Telecommunications in Pitt's School of Information Sciences. The SAIS tracks focus on the design and development of secure and reliable networked information systems; deployment, management, and maintenance of networks, systems, and IT infrastructures; and the evaluation and certification of security systems and software. The tracks are certified by the Committee on National Security Systems, a federal board that directs policy related to protecting classified government information.

The CAEIAE program aims to minimize the vulnerability of United States' information systems by promoting college-level instruction and research in network and information security, or information assurance (IA). A college or university applies for the CAEIAE designation and undergoes a thorough review of its contribution to IA education and research, including funded research projects, IA-focused curriculum, and the quantity and quality of published research, among other areas.

"This designation is a strong validation of Pitt's high-quality IA-focused degree programs, and it says that Pitt is among the front-runners when it comes to IA-focused research," said James Joshi, cofounder and director of Pitt's Laboratory for Education and Research on Security Assured Information Systems and assistant professor of information science.

"CAEIAE status helps us attract superior students to Pitt's IA-focused programs and positions the University to take advantage of unique opportunities available only to designated institutions," Joshi added.

Students of a CAEIAE can apply for certain IA scholarships offered by the Department of Defense and for the National Science Foundation's prestigious Federal Cyber Service: Scholarship for Service. Pitt received the NSF award last year, which provides more than $1 million for four years to provide scholarships to students pursuing the SAIS tracks. Approximately a dozen institutions in the country currently feature a Scholarship for Service-supported program.

Formed in 1998, the CAEIAE program was expanded in 2003 under President George Bush's National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace to address a perceived shortage of information security professionals. A designation does not carry a commitment of federal funding.