Leader in Cyber Defense

March 1, 2023
Leader in Cyber Defense

This spring, the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) designated Baylor University as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD). The program addresses the critical shortage of professionals with cybersecurity skills and highlights the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace.

“CAE designation is a tremendous recognition of years of diligent work by many Baylor faculty to highlight the growing consequences of cybersecurity on our society,” said Erich J. Baker, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) and professor of bioinformatics. “This designation allows our faculty and staff to share their passions and tremendous expertise in cyber by training the next generation of cyber experts and researchers.”

The CAE-CD program focuses on reducing vulnerability in the nation’s information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense, increasing the number of professionals with expertise in cyber defense disciplines and creating avenues that will enable the U.S. to prevent and respond effectively to catastrophic cyber events. 

“Security of our digital infrastructure is essential to individual privacy, our economy and U.S. national security,” said Jeff Donahoo, Ph.D., professor of computer science, who leads Baylor’s Cybersecurity Research and Education Initiative and specializes in responsible AI, cybersecurity and networking. “The NSA CAE-CD designation recognizes Baylor as a critical part of the solution through interdisciplinary cybersecurity workforce development, thought leadership and research.”

In order to become a CAE-CD, Baylor was required to go through an in-depth application process and assessment of cybersecurity educational programs and institutional resources/commitment by fellow CAE academic institutions, NSA, DHS and other government and industry partners. CAE designation provides critical recognition for Baylor graduates in cybersecurity, enhances recruiting of future students and creates opportunities for funding from grants like the Department of Defense Cybersecurity Scholarship program and National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Scholarship for Service program.

The designation grants Baylor the opportunity to join a growing community of institutions developing the critical workforce and research needed to secure U.S. industrial and military infrastructure. Faculty in ECS have a great deal of cybersecurity education, research and industry experience, providing students with access to a diverse set of cybersecurity-related facilities and capabilities as part of the University’s Cybersecurity Research and Education Initiative.

In addition to Baylor offering several undergraduate and graduate degrees in technology and cybersecurity, students have the opportunity to apply their skills at national competitions that offer realistic interactive offensive and defensive scenarios. Mostly recently, Baylor students competing in National Cyber League (NCL) competitions ranked 18th in the nation and No. 5 in the central region for Fall 2022, out of nearly 500 colleges and universities across the United States that participate in the NCL competitions.

“A highly skilled cybersecurity workforce is a strategic national security advantage,” wrote Karen Leuschner, national CAE program manager at NSA, in the designation letter to the University. “The United States Government will continue to invest in and enhance programs that build the domestic talent pipeline, from primary through postsecondary education.”