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Cyber Competition Center, Information Security/Intelligence Capabilities Bolstered By Federal Grants

Ferris State University
PHOTO CAPTIONS: Information Security and Intelligence has been making big news securing grants. Professor Greg Gogolin (below) and peers in the ISI program have high hopes, after a $212,000 grant was recently received from the United States Department of Defense. The federal support will fund the expansion of Ferris’ Cyber Competition Center and facilitate synchronous online instruction of ISI coursework.


Support from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Cyber Scholarship Program continues to arrive and allow the leaders of Ferris State University’s Information Security and Intelligence program to present augmented facilities and instructional capabilities.

College of Business Professor Greg Gogolin, director of Ferris’ Center of Cyber Security and Data Science, said the latest Department of Defense grant award of $212,000 was confirmed in June and will provide added technology for the curriculum’s Cyber Competition Center.

“We are eligible for this funding thanks to our National Security Agency designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense,” Gogolin said. “More than 600 high Greg Gogolinschool students have taken part in cyber competitions since our center opened in 2018. The DoD has a high level of interest in cybersecurity and data science expertise. Our competitions help students identify if they have an interest in these fields and potentially pursue careers in data analytics and cybersecurity. We expect this latest grant will allow us to accommodate 200 students for each event, a great improvement on our current capacity of 120.”

Gogolin said renovating Room 110 in the College of Business building will expand the footprint of the center. Competitions occur throughout the school year and involve schools from throughout the state. Schools interested in participating in the competitions can receive grant support.

“The funding will allow us to acquire and set up an additional video wall, provide cameras for remote competitors and bring in glass boards, so spectators can view a team’s work in real time,” Gogolin said. “We are pleased to gain the resources to keep up with student demand for our competitions, while also expanding our capabilities in synchronous online instruction.”

Gogolin added that a portion of this recent federal grant supports the ISI program’s development of curriculum with a focus on securing cloud infrastructure.

“We are in the final stages of developing a Cloud Computing certificate that our dual-enrolled high school students in Kentwood, Forest Hills, Rockford and Big Rapids can work toward,” Gogolin said. “The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education indicates there were over 313,000 job openings in cybersecurity across the country as of November 2018. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said they expect demand in computer and mathematical occupations to see a 13.5 percent annual growth rate through 2026. Ferris has been fortunate to receive consistent grant support from the Department of Defense, and that record sets us in good stead for further awards, so we can continue to enhance our nationally ranked programs.”

Gogolin proposed the Cyber Competition Center in 2017 and received a $160,000 grant to establish that facility and implement the offering of synchronous online instruction. Later in 2018, a $130,000 Department of Defense award was received, which is focused on social media/dark web analysis as it relates to cryptocurrency and online criminal activity. Grants have also included more than $100,000 in student scholarship support.