JSCC Cyber Defense Program Achieves Elite Federal Designation

Jackson State Community College was recertified through 2022 as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education by the U.S. National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

The five-year designation puts Jackson State among an elite group of institutions offering computer information technology courses that meet rigorous federal standards and sets graduating students apart from others, said Dr. Tom Pigg, Dean of Computer Information Technology and Health Sciences. Recognized as leaders in the field, only about 40 community colleges and 200 four-year universities across the country have the designation.

“It’s very important; it’s huge, to say the least,” said Pigg. “The benefit is that, because of the rigors required to get the designation, students will have this recognition that they attended a school that is a National Center of Academic Excellence.”

Graduates often find work protecting national security information systems, commercial networks and critical information infrastructure in both the private and public sectors.

Jackson State was recertified after an application process that requires a six-month campus study to meet the government’s criteria. Most schools that apply do not achieve the designation, and those that do typically undergo a 10-week review that identifies areas that need to be improved. Jackson State was approved in less than a month without the need to change anything in its program.

“It’s a pretty exhaustive self-study-type process,” Pigg said. “This is a re-designation, but there’s been a lot of changes with requirements and how the designation process is conducted.”

The National Security Agency launched the program in 1998 to reduce vulnerabilities to the country’s information infrastructure. Its goals are to promote higher education and research while producing professionals with cyber defense expertise.

The program was expanded to two-year colleges, technical schools and government training centers in 2010, and Jackson State was first designated in 2012. “This is a fairly young designation for community colleges,” Pigg said.

The school’s ability to meet the increasing demands of the program criteria will serve the nation well in the protection of the national information infrastructure, said Karen Leuschner from the National Security Agency. She serves as National Center of Academic Excellence program director.

“Like all nations, the United States has a compelling interest in defending its vital national assets, as well as our core principles and values, and we are committed to defending against those who would attempt to impede our ability to do so.” Leuschner said. “Education is the key to promoting these ideals.”

To earn the designation, schools must develop significant partnerships with businesses and government agencies while offering courses that teach students to be computer information technology and cyber defense professionals. Schools must also provide community service while meeting certain security standards on campus, such as employee training and offering secure business transactions.

While the designation targets Jackson State’s computer information technology program, it impacts all facets of campus. For more information, visit the school’s Cyber Security Center website at www.jscc.edu/cybercenter.

Jackson State Community College provides accessible learning opportunities that enhance the lives of individuals, strengthen the workforce and empower the diverse communities of West Tennessee. The institution offers traditional and contemporary associate degrees, certificates, continuing education and enrichment, and college-readiness programs.

JSCC Cyber Defense Program Achieves Elite Federal Designation

Jackson State Community College was recertified through 2022 as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education by the U.S. National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

The five-year designation puts Jackson State among an elite group of institutions offering computer information technology courses that meet rigorous federal standards and sets graduating students apart from others, said Dr. Tom Pigg, Dean of Computer Information Technology and Health Sciences. Recognized as leaders in the field, only about 40 community colleges and 200 four-year universities across the country have the designation.

“It’s very important; it’s huge, to say the least,” said Pigg. “The benefit is that, because of the rigors required to get the designation, students will have this recognition that they attended a school that is a National Center of Academic Excellence.”

Graduates often find work protecting national security information systems, commercial networks and critical information infrastructure in both the private and public sectors.

Jackson State was recertified after an application process that requires a six-month campus study to meet the government’s criteria. Most schools that apply do not achieve the designation, and those that do typically undergo a 10-week review that identifies areas that need to be improved. Jackson State was approved in less than a month without the need to change anything in its program.

“It’s a pretty exhaustive self-study-type process,” Pigg said. “This is a re-designation, but there’s been a lot of changes with requirements and how the designation process is conducted.”

The National Security Agency launched the program in 1998 to reduce vulnerabilities to the country’s information infrastructure. Its goals are to promote higher education and research while producing professionals with cyber defense expertise.

The program was expanded to two-year colleges, technical schools and government training centers in 2010, and Jackson State was first designated in 2012. “This is a fairly young designation for community colleges,” Pigg said.

The school’s ability to meet the increasing demands of the program criteria will serve the nation well in the protection of the national information infrastructure, said Karen Leuschner from the National Security Agency. She serves as National Center of Academic Excellence program director.

“Like all nations, the United States has a compelling interest in defending its vital national assets, as well as our core principles and values, and we are committed to defending against those who would attempt to impede our ability to do so.” Leuschner said. “Education is the key to promoting these ideals.”

To earn the designation, schools must develop significant partnerships with businesses and government agencies while offering courses that teach students to be computer information technology and cyber defense professionals. Schools must also provide community service while meeting certain security standards on campus, such as employee training and offering secure business transactions.

While the designation targets Jackson State’s computer information technology program, it impacts all facets of campus. For more information, visit the school’s Cyber Security Center website at www.jscc.edu/cybercenter.

Jackson State Community College provides accessible learning opportunities that enhance the lives of individuals, strengthen the workforce and empower the diverse communities of West Tennessee. The institution offers traditional and contemporary associate degrees, certificates, continuing education and enrichment, and college-readiness programs.

JSCC faculty present PBL project at conference

Jackson State Community College was represented at the Community College Cyber Security Summit (3CS) in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, July 22-24.

Representing JSCC were Tom Pigg, Dean of Allied Health and CIS, and Josh Britt, Associate Professor of Mathematics who have been working on a puzzle-based learning (PBL) project for over a year through the funding obtained from the Nation Science Foundation Project Grant.

With over 360 people in attendance, individuals obtained information pertaining to cyber security and cyber security education.

At the summit, Pigg and Britt demonstrated “game-like puzzles” that would enhance students’ learning of cyber security.

“We were trying to roll the puzzles out to get some reviews and evaluations on their effectiveness,” stated Pigg.

Nine community colleges will pilot these cyber security puzzles during the fall semester.

JSCC Takes Lead Role in Cybersecurity Research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded a grant of $385,136 to Jackson State Community College to support a puzzle-based cybersecurity learning project. The ultimate goal of this project is to enhance defensive skills of front-line technicians in the area of cybersecurity.

This grant for this project was applied for by and is under the direction of Dr. Tom Pigg, Dean of Allied Health and Computer Information Systems at Jackson State. The project is in collaboration with the University of Memphis. Dr. Dipankar Dasgupta, Professor of Computer Science at The University of Memphis, will oversee the research design for the project and will be available for expert consultation

The project will start Sept. 1 and run for three years. The initial project will consist of the development of puzzles that CIS students studying information assurance will use as a method to learn and hone their skills in problem solving. According to Pigg, ‘Students will work through a variety of scenarios to achieve a desirable outcome. As with many things, there are multiple ways to solve a problem. Ultimately, there will be competitions where students will compete to determine the most efficient way to solve problems.’

Dr. Pigg sees this as a huge boost for JSCC and the Computer Information Systems program specifically. ‘This is a very unique situation,’ comments Pigg. ‘Due to the nature of the research component, these types of grants are normally awarded to four-year institutions where this activity is typically carried out. Select students and faculty of JSCC are the ones directly responsible for the implementation of this research. ‘This type of opportunity at the associates degree level is a great opportunity for both students and faculty,’ states Pigg.

Jackson State has the distinction of being the only community college in the state of Tennessee as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance institution. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security grants this designation. JSCC is also a member of the Cyber Security Education Consortium (CSEC) of which it is the lead institution for Tennessee.

For more information about the Computer Information Systems program at Jackson State Community College, visit http://www.jscc.edu/computer-information-systems or contact Dr. Pigg at (731) 424-3520 ext. 50201 or tpigg@jscc.edu.

Jackson State Designated as National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance 2-Year Education by National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security

Jackson State Community College held a press conference today, June 26 from 10-11 a.m. in McWherter Centers Kisber Conference Room to announce the recent award recognition from the National Security Agency that designated Jackson State Community College as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance 2-Year Education.

Participants for the conference included: Dr. Tom Pigg, Professor of Computer Information Systems at Jackson State Community College; Steven L. Champine, Special Agent with the FBI; and Richard Harlow, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service,Memphis Field Office.

The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have jointly announced the designation of 52 colleges and universities as National Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education, Information Assurance Research, and in Information Assurance 2-Year Education for the years 2012 through 2017.

Jackson State is one out of 24 community colleges across the nation to be honored with this distinction out of over 1,000 community colleges nationwide. It serves as the only Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance 2-Year Education in the state of Tennessee.

The centers – now totaling 166 in 42 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico – are recognized leaders in these fields. Program graduates often develop into cyber experts who help to protect national-security information systems, commercial networks, and critical information infrastructure in both the private and public sectors – meeting the increasingly urgent needs of the U.S. government, industry, and academia.

‘We have an incredible number of faculty and staff that are leaders in so many ways. Today, CIS (Computer Information Systems) is being recognized for an amazing accomplishment and I am so proud of them, said Dr. Bruce Blanding, president of Jackson State Community College.

‘It is quite an honor to be recognized with this designation,’ said Dr. Tom Pigg, Professor of Computer Information Systems at Jackson State Community College. ‘This didn’t happen overnight It has been a six-year journey.’ Pigg had to study Jackson State extensively prior to applying to be considered for the distinction. ‘Jackson State is very well prepared. This is not just a CIS distinction, but an institutional honor,’ he said.

Richard Harlow, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service,Memphis Field Office, said that he was proud to be here to congratulate Jackson State. Jackson State Community College was the first academic partner in our Cyber Security Task Force, he said. He continued on to explain that nearly every crime has computerized evidence to go with it. ‘There is a need for forensic inspection on all computerized devices.’

Steven L. Champine, Special Agent with the FBI said, ‘The designation reflects highly on Dr. Pigg and the institution and I am so proud to be here.’

Dr. Pigg will be holding a three-day Digital Forensics Workshop on June 27-29 teaching community college faculty from across the state. He will be using AccessDatas Forensics Toolkit (FTK), which leads attendees to AccessData Certified Examiner status. This workshop is part of the Cyber Security Education Consortium funded by the National Science Foundation Advanced Technology Education Grant. We want others to be able to take this knowledge back to their respective campuses and teach others about this ever-important issue, said Pigg.

The complete list of centers and details about the selection process are available here.

All of the designations are valid for five academic years, after which the college or university must successfully re-apply. The NSA-DHS partnership was initially formed in 2004 in response to the 2003 National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace.

More information about the National Security Agency is available online at www.nsa.gov.

Jackson State Included in $2.7 Million NSF Advanced Technological Education Grant

Jackson, Tenn. – Jackson State Community College will receive part of a $2.7 million Advanced Technological Education grant from the National Science Foundation to further advance cyber security and digital forensics education across the state through training workshops. As the lead institution for the Tennessee Cyber Security Education Consortium (CSEC), which includes 9 of Tennessee’s 13 community colleges, Jackson State will receive over $94,000 a year for three years.

The money will be used to continue the newly created Summer Institute for Cyber Security and Digital Forensics at Jackson State providing hands-on training that focuses on securing network infrastructure from hackers and cyber terrorists. Grant funds also will be used to develop advanced courses in these subject areas to teach students to utilize the latest software programs to gather digital evidence and to focus on protecting access to automation and control systems that might be considered terrorist targets such as gas, electricity or water utility infrastructures.