NSA Partners with UWF to Accelerate Cybersecurity Degrees

UWF President Martha D. Saunders and Dr. Leonard Reinsfelder

The University of West Florida and the National Security Agency announce a partnership to enhance cybersecurity workforce development and create accelerated pathways toward completion of an undergraduate cybersecurity degree program.
The agreement allows students who complete the Joint Cyber Analysis Course to earn undergraduate credit hours at UWF. JCAC is open to active military. The six-month JCAC course is designed to train individuals with limited computer experience and make them proficient in cyber analysis.
“The National Security Agency’s National Cryptologic School is very pleased to be partnering with the University of West Florida to assist our nation in developing and training federal and military workers in cybersecurity,” said Dr. Leonard Reinsfelder, Commandant, NSA National Cryptologic School. “Cybersecurity is both an economic security threat and a national security threat, which makes cybersecurity a national imperative. The University of West Florida recognizes the unique talent of our nation’s cyber warriors, especially our military in the State of Florida, and we are pleased to partner with them as we prepare for the future.
“Last year, more than 4,000 military students completed this complex cyber course. The course is divided into 10 modules and covers 25 topics ranging from computer fundamentals to programming to forensics methodology and malware analysis. The NSA National Cryptologic School oversees JCAC, which is housed at the Center for Information Warfare Training at Corry Station in Pensacola. The partnership between the JCAC, NSA and UWF is a natural outgrowth of the mutual intent in securing our country.”
For JCAC graduates, the University will apply up to 30 credit hours toward a bachelor’s degree in computing and information sciences with a cybersecurity specialization or 15 credit hours toward an associate’s degree in general education. Once enrolled at UWF, students may be awarded up to three additional semester credit hours based on credit-by-proficiency evaluation.
“This partnership is an excellent opportunity to prepare our students for successful careers in cybersecurity by providing our educational resources,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “It aligns with our unwavering commitment to train cybersecurity talent and address the critical cybersecurity workforce shortage across the nation.”
In 2016, the NSA and Department of Homeland Security designated the UWF undergraduate cybersecurity program as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. The University received designation in 2017 as a Center of Academic Excellence Regional Resource Center for the Southeast Region. UWF provides leadership to advance cyber defense education among colleges and universities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Puerto Rico and South Carolina.
UWF is one of only five higher education institutions that NSA has partnered with to offer accelerated degrees. UWF joins Augusta University, Dakota State University, Drexel University and University of Maryland University College in that distinction.
“This agreement will allow JCAC graduates to accelerate completion of our excellent undergraduate cybersecurity program,” said Dr. George Ellenberg, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “The unique program will hone specialized skills and provide a fast track toward career advancement for these students.”
For more information about cybersecurity, visit uwf.edu/cybersecurity.

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2017 Innovation Awards Results

Ione Villegas

Pensacola Bay Oyster Co.

Innovation isn’t a word commonly used to describe oyster farming. When the owners of Pensacola Bay Oyster Co. explained the innovation and research that lies beneath the surface of this new industry, they secured first place – and the $100,000 cash prize –  at the 2017 Innovation Awards.

The Innovation Awards is Florida’s most lucrative business plan competition. At the end of the competition on April 13 at the Hilton Pensacola Beach hotel, 12 companies walked away with cash and prizes that will help them to continue to grow their businesses.

Jim McClellan, chairman of the board of directors of Innovation Coast and marketing director of AppRiver, said the competition was the culmination of a long and exhaustive process for the finalists.

“This was an amazing day and an incredible journey for not only the winners but for all of the individuals and companies who participated,” he said during closing remarks for the event. “We hope you don’t let anything take you off the path that brought you here.” 

Pensacola Bay Oyster Co.’s owners Donnie McMahon and Doug Ankersen will use the prize earnings they received from the University of West Florida’s Office of Economic Development and Engagement to expand their oyster hatchery and create clean, high-skilled jobs that grow the region’s economy and improve the environment. It also hopes to position Northwest Florida as a hub for aquaculture research, innovation, and investment. They will also receive a six-month membership for Vistage Florida’s coaching and mentorship program.

In the post-revenue category, second place went to NumNum, an emerging baby brand based in Pensacola, and received $50,000 from UWF’s OEDE; and Robotics Unlimited, Inc., a company bringing cutting-edge robotics to the toy market, placed third and received a two-hour consultation from S. Nevin Shaffer, an intellectual property law attorney, and meeting space at Co:Lab.

In the pre-revenue category, first place went to Cognitive Big Data Systems, developer of a computer vision app that allows machines to learn and build memories, received $25,000 from Innovation Coast; NeuBev, a startup that developed an eco-friendly smart water cooler, placed second and received $15,000 from Innovation Coast; and Fast Informatics, a startup using machine learning to makes sense of data, placed third and received meeting space at Pensacola Socialdesk.

In the veteran category, first place went to Mine Survival, Inc., a manufacturer of respiratory escape systems, and received the $10,000 Landrum Veteran Award; Invictus Knowledge Institute, a non-profit offering advanced technology training and development, placed second and received $5,000 from AppRiver; Naggy, an app that motivates kids to complete chores, placed third and received meeting space from Venture Hive in Fort Walton Beach.

In the student category, first place went Halo Technology, an app that uses location-based augmented reality technology, and received $5,000 from AppRiver/Office 365; Stadium Finder, an app that allows users to order concession stand food from their stadium seats, placed second and received $2,500 from Innovation Coast; and HomeTheater, a service that will allow virtual reality headset users the convenience of watching new movies from the comfort of home, placed third and received a five-hour consultation with business entity law by Kimberly Sullivan of Moore, Hill & Westmoreland.

The 12 finalists were chosen out of 61 companies that registered for the Innovation Awards. The five judges representing the technology sector, finance, military, academia, and corporate leadership were: Joel Smith, chief technology officer at AppRiver, Kathy Chiu, managing director of the FAN fund in Orlando; Vernon Niven, president of Buy Like Me; Kathy Anthony, Northwest Florida chair for Vistage Florida; Tommy Tait, president of the Pensacola market for Summit Financial Enterprises.


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UWF named by NSA as National Center of Academic Excellence Cybersecurity Regional Resource Center for the Southeast region

The University of West Florida has been named by the National Security Agency as the National Center of Academic Excellence Cybersecurity Regional Resource Center for the Southeastern region. In this role, the UWF Center for Cybersecurity will provide leadership to advance cyber defense education among colleges and universities in the region and support new and existing CAE institutions.

UWF will serve as the CAE Regional Resource Center for all institutions of higher education in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Puerto Rico. The University will receive a nearly $200,000 grant and will work with the NSA CAE Program Office and other regional and national hubs across the country to enhance cybersecurity education and expand the CAE Program across the nation.

“This prestigious designation recognizes the excellent and innovative programs offered by the UWF Center for Cybersecurity,” UWF President Martha D. Saunders said. “Our selection as a regional resource center recognizes the leadership role that Dr. Eman El-Sheikh and her team have taken in this vital area. UWF has developed a number of partnerships with key players in the field of cybersecurity that prepare our students for successful careers.”

The CAE-Cyber Defense Program Office named six CAE institutions to serve as CAE Regional Resource Centers, as well as four CAE National Resource Centers and four CAE Consultation Resource Centers across the nation.

In May 2016, the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security designated UWF as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. The National Centers of Academic Excellence program seeks to reduce vulnerability in the nation’s information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and increasing the number of professionals with cyber defense expertise.

“We are honored to serve as the CAE Regional Resource Center for the Southeast,” said Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, UWF Center for Cybersecurity director. “Building on our successes and partnerships, UWF will lead efforts to advanced cybersecurity education and expand the cybersecurity workforce. We will work to increase the number of CAE designated institutions in the Southeast and also provide support and resources to existing CAE institutions.

“This will include cybersecurity program development support, faculty professional development activities, and enhancing research and education collaborations among Southeast institutions. Our mission is highly rewarding: build a strong cybersecurity community to advance education, workforce development and innovation in the Southeast and nationally.”

For more information about the National Centers of Academic Excellence Program, jointly sponsored by the NSA and DHS, visit: niccs.us-cert.gov

The UWF Center for Cybersecurity is the regional hub for cybersecurity education and research, including multidisciplinary programs and certificates, research opportunities, outreach activities, and industry partnerships. To learn more about the UWF Center for Cybersecurity, visit uwf.edu/cybersecurity.

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