In late 1990s, the National Security Agency, now in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security, developed the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE/IAE) program. This effort is an outreach program designed to reduce vulnerabilities in our national information infrastructure by promoting higher education in information assurance and producing a growing number of professionals with IA expertise in various disciplines.
Universities that are designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education receive formal recognition from the US government as well as the ability to offer scholarships and granting opportunities to both students
and faculty. Information assurance education is not an isolated need. The demand for research and for students who possess the needed education and skills is growing. In our global society, we have become dependent on information systems, and ensuring
their continued operation is a critical need in our society.
To address the need for trained cyber security professionals, IUP developed a cross-disciplinary baccalaureate degree between the IUP departments of Computer Science and Criminology. It includes the core Computer Science program augmented with cyber security
and information assurance classes, combined with a minor in criminology. The BS in Computer Science/Information Assurance track was first offered in fall 2002. In addition to a baccalaureate degree, IUP developed an interdisciplinary minor in information
assurance designed to complement degrees in criminology, computer science, information management systems, and others with a base understanding and skills in information assurance. The minor involves a different distribution of computer science and
criminology courses depending on the student’s major.
In 2005, the IUP Council of Deans formally established the Institute for Information Assurance as an IUP Institute with the mission to promote information assurance education and awareness across the IUP campus.
In the early 2000s, the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security designated IUP to be a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education. IUP was one of the first undergraduate institutions to receive this designation
and has maintained a unique blend of computer science with criminology.
In 2007, IUP signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Butler County Community College and with the Community College of Allegheny County to work together to pursue partnerships, programs, and collaborations. A similar agreement with the Community College of Beaver County was signed in 2008.
In 2008, IUP signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Pennsylvania Highlands Community College and with Westmoreland Community College to operate collectively in the furtherance of mutual interest in the area of information assurance and computer security.
Since signing these agreements, IUP has assisted in review of curriculum, established transfer of credits, and collectively promotes information assurance activities. IUP continues to work with these and other institutions to develop articulation agreements
and strengthen relationships.
In 2015, the Institute for Information Assurance established a steering committee to better coordinate and disseminate cyber security and information assurance research, practices, and activities across the IUP campus. Faculty members from four of the
IUP colleges are represented together with security personnel from IUP IT Services and the dean of the Kopchick College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
In fall 2015, the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security designated IUP to be a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, the latest designation. In conjunction with this new designation, the Institute for Information
Assurance was given a new name: the Institute for Cyber Security.
Over the past few years, the IUP ICS has been very successful in securing millions of dollars in federally funded grants to support all of its activities. These grants established unique initiatives that contribute to the enhancement of cybersecurity
research and education in the entire region. One example, IUP has been the first college/university in Pennsylvania to receive a GenCyber Grant from the National Security Agency and National Science Foundation in 2016 and has received continued support
in every year since then. Moreover, with support from the NSA, the ICS is currently involved in a state-of-the-art research project to explore novel approaches to secure IoT systems. Another example is the DoD Cyber Scholarship Program (CySP), a funded
project that annually provides several of our students with full-ride scholarships along with $25,000 annual stipend for each recipient. For details about ongoing and recent funded projects, please check the Grants web page.
The Cybersecurity Program at IUP along with the Institute for Cybersecurity has established a Cybersecurity Industry Advisory Board to regularly review our offerings and provide recommendations on how we can improve the cybersecurity curriculum so that
our graduates will better meet the needs of the industry. For information about the activities if the CIAB, please check its web page.
IUP continues to build relationships with regional institutions. IUP signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Hagerstown Community College and updated its Memorandum of Understanding with Pennsylvania Highlands Community College. IUP joined with Westmoreland
Community College, Community College of Allegheny County, and Butler County Community College in seeking an America’s Promise Grant to provide tuition-free education in IT and cybersecurity along with several other ongoing collaborative work with various
community colleges and technical institutes.
Today, IUP graduates 15 to 20 students each year with a degree in cybersecurity as well as several students with a minor in cybersecurity. The Institute for Cyber Security organizes and promotes a number of activities, including Cyber Security Days, meetings
of student organizations, workshops for teachers, summer camps for high school students, and roundtable discussions.