Two federal agencies have extended Pace University’s designation as a center for cybersecurity education.
The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security named Pace as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education for another five years.
“It’s significant,” said Jonathan Hill, dean of Pace’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, “because there is no greater threat to business and democracy than cyber vulnerability.”
The Seidenberg School faculty includes about a dozen specialists in cybersecurity. The program is based on Pace’s Pleasantville campus, where it runs a cybersecurity education and research lab.
The lab, directed by Li-Chiou Chen and Andreea Cotoranu, studies vulnerabilities in software, hardware, operating systems and even the human element.
“The weakest link is always people,” Hill said. “The mistakes we make leave systems vulnerable to hackers.”
The federal designation comes with funding; every academic year about a dozen Pace students qualify for full scholarships.
“This creates amazing opportunities for students,” Hill said. “It allows them to focus on their discipline and intern during the school year and summers with all of the 3-letter agencies.”
The government’s goal is to reduce vulnerability of the nation’s information infrastructure and train cybersecurity professionals. A critical shortage of cyber defense experts has enabled Pace graduates to land jobs with local, state and federal agencies.
A few years ago, Hill recalled, he was visited by a former student who was living in Washington. The alumnus joked that he would have to kill Hill if he disclosed where he worked. He thanked Hill for his support and left him with a CIA coffee cup.
Pace is one of five institutions in the region that have received the cybersecurity education designation, including Mercy College, New York Institute of Technology, New York University and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.