Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe today announced that the National Security Agency has designated Virginia Tech as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations. The first university to receive this status in the commonwealth, Virginia Tech joins an exclusive list of 16 other universities in the nation in bearing this designation.

“This elite designation is an outstanding addition to Virginia’s cyber portfolio,” said McAuliffe. “This very technical, interdisciplinary, higher-education program is firmly grounded in computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering disciplines and offers students an opportunity to attain the highest level of cyber credentialing in the commonwealth. Cybersecurity is at the very heart of our efforts to build a new Virginia economy, and Virginia Tech’s Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations designation contributes to the commonwealth’s position as one of the premier locations for this industry.”

The  Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations program supports the goal of creating a more cyber-aware workforce through education initiatives. Universities selected for this designation must offer a curriculum that promotes both interdisciplinary knowledge and hands-on technical studies, including courses in software reverse engineering, cybersecurity law, and mobile and cellular technologies. The Virginia Tech bachelor of science in computer engineering, minor in cybersecurity, and focus in cyber operations, combined with the university’s “hands-on, minds-on” approach to academic achievement, offer a curriculum that serves the mission of the center.

“In order to maintain our leadership position, the commonwealth must create and sustain a highly qualified cybersecurity workforce,” said Virginia Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson. “Having a CAE-CO at Virginia Tech is a differentiator for the commonwealth.”

“Over the past three-and-a-half years, we have made it a top priority to partner with our colleges and universities as they work to earn these prestigious designations from the NSA,” said Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent. “Virginia Tech’s success in this endeavor puts us one step closer to making education relevant for the 21st century and preparing all of our students for the careers of the future."

“Virginia Tech is proud to receive this designation,” said Charles Clancy, director of Virginia Tech’s Hume Center for National Security and Technology.  “Virginia Tech has a strong legacy of service to the nation embodied in our school motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), and this program will only enhance our efforts to prepare the next generation of leaders in the critical fields of cybersecurity and cyber operations.”    

Virginia Tech will hold the Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations designation for five academic years, from 2017 to 2022. Virginia Tech has received a previous designation as a National Security Agency Center for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Research and is also designated by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence as an Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence.

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