Ferris State University’s Information Security and Intelligence program has secured
a $385,000 Department of Defense grant. These allotted federal funds are designated
to develop an Artificial Intelligence curriculum, student scholarships and support
directed to the ISI’s Cyber Competition schedule.
College of Business Professor Greg Gogolin, director of Ferris’ Center of Cyber Security and Data Science, said this latest award means the Department of Defense has provided more than $1 million, over the years, to develop ISI programs and student scholarship support.
“We submitted our application in February, learned that a portion of the grant award was approved in May, with the rest of our funding being confirmed in August,” Gogolin said. “One of the main components of the award is the $200,000 that will allow us to acquire infrastructure necessary to begin instruction in Artificial Intelligence.”
Gogolin said the Department of Defense award allows Ferris to join Pennsylvania-based Carnegie-Mellon University as the only institutions that offer Bachelor of Science instruction in this discipline.
“Many schools have separate AI instruction as part of a Cyber Security curriculum, but we will be able to join a select field with a Bachelor of Science program in Artificial Intelligence,” Gogolin said. “We have preliminary approval for our first class, which will address biometrics as they apply in this field. It is expected that we will complete the processes on campus necessary to have that class available in the Spring 2021 semester.”
Gogolin said ISI can now purchase components to have augmented reality presentations, an expansion of interactive qualities found in the Pok’ emon Go mobile game.
“In that game, the only device required to participate is a smartphone,” Gogolin said. “This application of augmented reality is a first for our DoD funded initiatives. Cybersecurity is a broad attack surface; one person or a team can have great difficulty being effective. When AI is integrated in an automated response, the potential for presenting a capable defense is much greater.”
Gogolin said Ashleigh Allen, of Alden; Brennan Baar, of Byron Center; and Austin Moody, of Sebewaing, are three students who will receive scholarships from the Department of Defense award, which totals $150,000. Allen and Moody are pursuing the Master of Science in Information Security and Intelligence while Baar is completing a Bachelor of Science in Business Data Analytics.
“Previous Department of Defense grants positioned us to become a top school in cybersecurity, this award now places our program in elite status,” Gogolin said. “We expect that the elements of this award will allow us to maintain and augment our status as a school whose students compete and produce results in the 98th and 99th percentile, nationally. We are elated to be achieving at that level.”
The grant’s final portion presents $35,000 to the ISI program for cyber competitions hosted at the Ferris Cyber Competition Center in the College of Business building. Gogolin said there are exciting possibilities ahead, thanks to this funding.
“We expect to offer our competitor schools a more virtual method of participation,” Gogolin said. “If conditions allow, live stream podcasting of the competitions will be developed. That will give us the capability to host the competitions at multiple schools, perhaps including as many as a half-dozen institutions. These events showcase our university and ISI program so that the grant can be a catalyst to many good things for our college and Ferris.”