Spearheaded by the College of Engineering, the major new educational initiative encompasses a comprehensive and collaborative program that spans the polytechnic university and partners with public and private organizations. The goals of the program include educating thousands of students in cybersecurity awareness and readiness; producing experts in cyber technologies and systems, including many professionals who will serve the military and defense industry; and graduating cyber innovators who are prepared for advanced study and applied research in emerging cyber issues.
The Cal Poly Cybersecurity Center serves as the nexus for a wide range of activities that involve faculty and students collaborating with experts from other academic institutions, private companies, defense industries and government agencies, and research labs. A nationwide search for a founding director of the Cybersecurity Center is now underway.
Part of the cybersecurity initiative, the Cal Poly – Northrop Grumman Cyber Lab is set to open for classes in January 2014. The undergraduate and graduate teaching facility -- the first of its kind in the nation -- was made possible by support from the Northrop Grumman Foundation.
With 32 workstations, projectors, presentation center and expansive whiteboard space, the lab will enable student and faculty experimentation in network security and cyber defense, exploitation, attack, research and development, analytics and visualization. The lab's associated server center offers a robust research environment, including all of the elements of an enterprise-scale information technology operation.
Not only did the Northrop Grumman Foundation provide funding for hardware and software, but the company helped design the facility and sent Dale Griffiths, chief scientist in the Northrop Grumman Intelligence System Division in McLean, Va., to set up and configure the lab.
A unique aspect of the Cal Poly – Northrop Grumman cyber collaboration includes access via network connection to the Northrop Grumman Virtual Cyber Lab, thereby expanding educational and research capabilities for Cal Poly students and faculty.
"Our shared investment in the cyber lab will be the foundation for a meaningful cyber partnership between Northrop Grumman and Cal Poly," said Ron Smith, Northrop Grumman Information Systems sector vice president for programs and engineering.
Cal Poly's momentum in cybersecurity education builds upon an already-established focus in the area, including a two-year-old cybersecurity project lab established with funding from Raytheon. The company also sponsors White Hat, the Cal Poly student club dedicated to making the internet a safer place by protecting personal computers, private data and information systems.
The addition of Zachary Peterson to the faculty in fall 2013 ensures expansion of cybersecurity research and curriculum from entry-level to advanced, specialized topics. An expert in secure storage systems, applied cryptography, and law and policy, Peterson has received funding from the National Science Foundation for research in cybersecurity education. Cal Poly is now searching for another faculty member with expertise in secure infrastructure.
Future course offerings in cybersecurity may include cryptography engineering, study of cutting-edge malware research and analysis, and examination of the major controversies affecting today's Internet resulting from the interplay of policy, law and technology.
"Whether you're a private citizen, private company or government agency, cyber threats are a real and growing concern," said Debra Larson, dean of Cal Poly Engineering. "Our cyber facilities and education offer every student the opportunity to learn about the risks associated with the use of cyber technology.
"More importantly, through Learn by Doing instruction, Cal Poly will educate the Day One-ready cyber experts who know how to defend, secure, tactically engage and restore the cyber-space. By partnering with businesses and government, we are creating a framework of education, applied research and public service that will benefit the nation."