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Grant to Fund Facility Upgrades for Information Security and Intelligence Cyber Competition Center

Ferris State University
PHOTO CAPTIONS: Three rooms in Ferris State University's College of Business Building will be renovated, thanks to a $160,000 grant from the United States Department of Defense/National Security Agency. The Information Security and Intelligence program has begun the upgrades with glass doors to facilitate observation of students and professionals, as they will participate in events in this Cyber Competition Center. Shown above is Greg Gogolin, coordinator of the ISI program.

Three rooms on the first floor of the College of Business Building will be renovated to provide Ferris State University’s Information Security and Intelligence program the capability to host cyber competitions while allowing faculty to deliver synchronous two-way online interactive instruction.

ISI program coordinator Greg Gogolin said the National Security Agency, through the United Ferris State UniversityStates Department of Defense, has awarded Ferris nearly $160,000, which will be focused on remodeling the area where digital forensics lab work and general instruction take place.

“The doors to these rooms have been replaced and we expect observers will benefit from their full glass construction when competitions are held,” Gogolin said. “During cyber competitions, our participants, or students during classroom instruction, will make better use of glass boards which will be installed to replace the whiteboards currently on the walls in those rooms. It will be a spectator-friendly environment.”

Gogolin said when the renovations to the facility are complete, the ISI program will be able to support competitions where teams or individuals from secondary schools, universities or corporate ranks can demonstrate their abilities in responding to cyberattacks or other scenarios.

“We anticipate having around a dozen large-screen monitors, so teams and competitors can display their work to observers and review the activities of others who are involved,” Gogolin said. “There will also be a scoreboard monitor which will display information for as many as three teams who are participating in the competition.”

The upgrades will also allow College of Business Building Room 111, an auditorium, to serve as an observation site for the cyber competitions.

“We will strive to develop tournament-type competitions for various age groups and experience levels,” Gogolin said. “The facility upgrades will benefit data analytics and digital forensics, beyond those attributes mentioned for cyber competition. They will also be programming and distance-learning friendly.”

The synchronous two-way interactive instruction will be functional for undergraduate and masters-level ISI instruction when the renovations are complete.

“There will be no instructional space like it once we complete the advancements that have been planned,” Gogolin said. “It will bring our facilities on a par with the standards of excellence the ISI program has established.”

The Information Security and Intelligence program was identified as a “Center of Excellence” by the NSA’s National Information Assurance Education and Training Program, in 2011, and a number of other designations from the federal government and its military programs have followed. The university has been named as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education through the academic year 2020 by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.