CyLab Hosts Workshop for Minority-Serving Institutions, Community Colleges, and Pittsburgh Schools


August 1, 2004

Carnegie Mellon's CyLab hosted its third Information Assurance Capacity Building Program (IACBP) to increase information assurance education and research at minority-serving institutions (MSIs). Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the intensive in-residence summer workshop ran July 6-31, equipping faculty at partnering institutions with the expertise to expand their classes, design new curricula, and produce more graduates in information security, which is increasingly important to the nation's homeland security efforts. This year, teachers from the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) and Pittsburgh public schools (K-12) were also invited, sponsored by a grant from the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse.

CyLab is a university-wide, multidisciplinary initiative that builds on more than two decades of Carnegie Mellon's leadership in information technology. CyLab-affiliated faculty and experts from the Networked Systems Survivability Program in the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) led the sessions.

Carnegie Mellon received $400,000 from the NSF in 2002 to develop the courses and coordinate a partnership with the MSIs for the initial offerings. The schedule from July 6-10 focused specifically on raising the information assurance expertise of the MSI faculty members. In the second week of the program, Cisco experts instructed a hands-on module on installing and configuring security tools such as intrusion detection systems and firewalls. Microsoft donated resources to provide participants with laptop computers for the segment.

"Training the next generation of cyber-savvy professionals is essential as the Internet economy demands increasingly more complex job skills," said David B. Ruppersberger, president and chief executive officer of the Pittsburgh Digital Greenhouse. "Our commitment of $125,000 to Carnegie Mellon will help produce more graduates with information security expertise."

Dena Haritos Tsamitis, director of education, training and outreach for CyLab and director of the Information Networking Institute (INI), said the outreach is an important step in CyLab's vision of making 20,000 households in the Pittsburgh area and 10 million users worldwide savvy about cybersecurity.

"The training is a perfect complement to the two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Defense that CCAC and Carnegie Mellon's SEI were awarded to expand capacity and to lead cybersecurity across the country. We are very pleased to be part of it," said Nancilee Burzachechi, executive director of external affairs at the CCAC.

Outside the Pittsburgh area, this year's educational partners are California State Polytechnic University, Mt. San Antonio College, Oakwood College, Hampton University, and Los Angeles, and Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. Past participating schools include Howard University, Morgan State University, the University of Texas at El Paso, and California State University at San Bernardino.

"This program is an effective way to help institutions serving underrepresented minorities build better programs in the information security area, and help increase participation of minority students in filling the nation's growing need for information security professionals," said Don McGillen, executive director of CyLab.

McGillen reports the event has sparked several new security modules and courses at many participating universities, including a new course in security engineering at California State University and an Internet security special topics course for graduate and senior-level-undergraduate computer science students at Texas A&M at Corpus Christi.

While whites earned 68.7 percent and Asians earned 8.6 percent of bachelor's degrees in science and engineering in 2000, blacks only earned 8 percent and Hispanics 6.9 percent of those degrees, according to the NSF. Hispanics make up 13.5 percent of the population, blacks 12.7 percent, Asians 4 percent and whites about 70 percent, according to the 2000 census.

Carnegie Mellon was awarded funding to support these capacity building initiatives as a result of being certified by the National Security Agency as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. The campus is one of the most technologically sophisticated in the world. When Carnegie Mellon introduced its "Andrew" computing network in the mid 1980s, it pioneered educational applications of technology, which is pervasive on its 110-acre campus. At the university, 5,000 undergraduate students and 3,000 graduate students receive an education characterized by its focus on problem-solving, interdisciplinary collaboration and access to research projects.