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Summer 2005

UDM forms Information Assurance education partnership with HFCC and OCC

Information assurance n : the protection of information systems against unauthorized access or modification in storage, processing or transit, including necessary measures to detect, document, and counter such threats

Left to Right: UDM Computer and Information Systems Professor Daniel Shoemaker, Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office (CIO) Principle Deputy Director Richard H. L. Marshall, OCC Chancellor Mary S. Spangler, UDM Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Barbara Schirmer, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, and HFCC President Dr. Andrew Mazzara.

Information assurance (IA) has gained greater importance in our post-9/11 e-commerce society. Today, the ability to maintain the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information is paramount, and IA education is essential to producing professionals with the skills needed to improve the nation's capabilities.

University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) is at the forefront of this effort, having received the federal government's Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education designation in 2004. On April 29, UDM formally entered into a partnership with Henry Ford Community College (HFCC) and Oakland Community College (OCC) to form the Midwest Coalition for Information Assurance, a venture that will promote Information Assurance Education.

UDM, as one of only 59 federally designated Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE-IAE) in the nation, is the centerpiece of the Coalition's degree program, in which students can complete associate degrees at the partner institutions and continue their IA education with a bachelor's at UDM. The Coalition is sponsored by the NSA, and will both strengthen national security and establish a new industry in metro Detroit, by offering the IA industry a pool of qualified specialists in the field from which to hire.

Because of IA's critical importance in the protection of U.S. infrastructure, Coalition students have excellent job prospects. They are eligible to participate in the annual National Cyber Service Scholarship program, which fully supports their educational costs. They are also eligible for internship and employment opportunities in intelligence collection and analysis, cryptoanalysis, foreign languages, and computer and information systems with the federal government and in the private sector after graduation. Also, the availability of a highly trained workforce in this growing specialty will attract companies—and jobs—to the Detroit area.

Says UDM Computer and Information Systems Professor Dan Shoemaker, “IA as a discipline is still in its formative stages, yet it is one of the fastest growing areas in higher education. The mission of the Coalition is to develop content and curricula that conforms to the legitimate body of knowledge in IA. This is valuable to students and supports the protection of the critical infrastructure of the United States.”

CAE-IAE institutions such as UDM must pass a rigorous review demonstrating their commitment to academic excellence in IA education. During the application process, an applicant's IA programs, facilities, faculty, and research are evaluated against stringent criteria. Designation as a CAE-IAE is valid for three academic years, after which the school must successfully reapply in order to retain its CAE-IAE designation.