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Ferris to Play Key Role in Developing Talent, Tools to Protect National Security through NSA Partnership

Ferris ISI and NSA agreement

Ferris State University has entered into an Education Partnership Agreement with the National Security Agency.

Ferris State University will continue playing a key role in developing talent and tools for possible national security challenges as it enters into an Education Partnership Agreement with the National Security Agency.

Ferris has signed a five-year partnership with the federal agency, focusing on boosting science, technology, engineering and math education for students by leveraging the computer software, expertise, special equipment and information.

The partnership includes Ferris’ Information Security and Intelligence program, and will provide educational opportunities for students to meet a growing demand for skills in STEM fields.

“Ferris State University earned a strong reputation in higher education information security, and the intelligence program and has engaged in partnerships to remain innovative as we all seek to meet future challenges,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Bobby Fleischman said. “Ferris is excited to be part of this work providing an education that will make a difference for young students who can see their dreams of STEM careers become a reality.”

The federal government has authorized defense laboratories to create partnerships with institutions including, colleges, universities and nonprofits dedicated to fields such as STEM, business and law.

The NSA will offer experts to help develop academic projects and programs in STEM-related fields. The agency also will provide academic and career advice to students and offer program and research advice to Ferris faculty and staff.

The partnership creates vast and meaningful opportunities, said Molly Cooper, a College of Business associate professor in Information Security and Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence.

“This is an exciting development for our ISI program which specializes in preparing our students through building information security skills necessary to protect all sizes of critical systems against known and future threats,” Cooper said. “We have great faculty who are highly respected in information security and intelligence and are working to prepare our students at earlier and earlier ages for careers in space cybersecurity, data analytics, database management, artificial intelligence, and more. This partnership helps enhance the opportunities we can deliver for our students.”

Ferris’ ISI program is accredited by the NSA as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CDE) in all information and assurance subject areas. It is designated by the Department of Defense Cyber Command and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations as a National Center for Digital Forensic Academic Excellence and by the NSA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.

The Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense designation indicates that the ISI Program is helping reduce threats to our national infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and providing the nation with a pipeline of qualified cybersecurity professionals. In 2017 the ISI undergraduate program earned ABET Engineering Accreditation for Cybersecurity, one of the first seven universities in the nation to achieve this distinction. ABET accreditation is evidence that a collegiate program has met standards essential to produce graduates ready to enter the critical fields of STEM education. Furthermore, the ISI undergrad and MISI master’s programs rank highly by many national organizations and are the premier Cybersecurity degrees in the state of Michigan.

“We’re proud of the work that has been and will be done by our outstanding ISI faculty led by Dr. Molly Cooper, Dr. Greg Gogolin and all our ISI faculty,” Fleischman said. “The education we’re delivering matters in developing young minds into future professionals who will have opportunities to make a positive impact in information security and intelligence.”

ISI also has collaborative relationships with the Department of Homeland Security, The Pentagon and numerous Fortune 500 companies.

Information Security and Intelligence will be among the programs moving into the new Center for Virtual Learning on the Big Rapids campus in fall 2023. The $32.5 million facility, which includes $22 million from the state of Michigan, will feature next-generation classrooms and labs, an advanced Cyber Competition Center and an esports arena.