Northern Michigan University has joined the new Regional Cyber Education Collaboration, a joint effort by the higher education community and key private sector partners to address Michigan’s shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals. Gov. Rick Snyder announced the RCEC on Monday at the 2016 International Cyber Summit in Detroit. Joining NMU as initial collaborators in the effort are Wayne State University, Central Michigan University and the Ann Arbor-based Merit Network.
According to the Merit website, the RCEC will provide a robust cybersecurity curriculum throughout the state via a mix of face-to-face and distance learning courses at two- and four-year colleges. It will leverage the Michigan Cyber Range, a Merit networking and computer infrastructure, to deliver training and testing support. The cyber range enables students to detect and mitigate cyber attacks in real-world settings through various "live fire" exercises.
“NMU’s high-speed broadband Educational Access Network is one of the reasons we were asked to be involved in this,” said David Rayome, dean of NMU’s College of Business, which offers a bachelor’s degree program in information assurance/cyber defense. “The details are still being worked out, but the university partners have agreed to cooperate and are exploring ways to allow students to take related cyber classes originating at any of the three campuses.
"The first part is getting the technologies in place to facilitate communication between classrooms. We’ve been looking at either using a new classroom or updating the cyber security lab so it could be used as a video classroom.”
The primary goal of the Regional Cyber Education Collaboration is to build a workforce to meet the “exponentially growing demand” for cyber professionals in the government, non-profit and private sectors.
"Our cyber defense program at NMU is growing and we are excited about all opportunities to expand our audience," said assistant professor Jim Marquardson, who directs the program. "We look forward to sharing resources with other universities and working with MERIT to find innovative ways to extend our classrooms to students."
Other objectives of the RCEC include preparing key industries in Michigan—automotive, defense, energy and others—to meet evolving challenges related to cybersecurity, and establishing public/private partnerships that will develop a self-funded revenue model to sustain the collaboration.