U.S. Cyber Command Taps Illinois Tech to Join National Academic Network



By Casey Moffitt

Illinois Institute of Technology has joined the United States Cyber Command’s (USCYBERCOM) newly formed Academic Engagement Network as a charter member, which will open avenues to the latest research and cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies.

Illinois Tech is one of 84 colleges and universities selected by USCYBERCOM to join the network, which links these educational institutions with the entire USCYBERCOM enterprise. The enterprise includes Joint Force HQ-DODIN, the Cyber National Mission Force, U.S. Air Force Cyber Command/16th Air Force, U.S. Army Cyber Command/2nd Army, U.S. Fleet Cyber Command, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command, and the U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command.

USCYBERCOM noted the research conducted at the Department of Information Technology and Management’s Center for Cyber Security and Forensics Education (C2SAFE). The invitation to join the network also recognizes the academic rigors of the Bachelor of Information Technology and Management program.

Each network member will work collaboratively with USCYBERCOM through activities that will allow network members to share their unique cybersecurity insights gained through faculty and student research.

USCYBERCOM plans to offer capstone mentorships beginning in the fall 2022 semester. USCYBERCOM also will sponsor internships, fellowships, and recruiting programs for network members.

Other network member benefits include receiving communications about changes in the cyberspace domain that may impact their students, programs, research, and partnerships and invitations to exclusive webinars about USCYBERCOM’s most pressing technical and non-technical problems, as well as information about how to benefit from key U.S. Department of Defense programs that impact cyberspace.

“Being part of USCYBERCOM AEN allows our students access to the country’s militarized cybersecurity experts, one of the 11 unified combatant commands of the United States Department of Defense (DoD),” says Maurice Dawson, assistant professor of information technology and management at Illinois Tech. “This partnership strengthens projects and gives students insight into what skills are required to succeed in this combatant command—understanding the importance of cybersecurity and what it means firsthand to protect the nation’s interests, such as critical infrastructure. This new partnership gives the students at Illinois Tech an edge over competing institutions nationally.”

USCYBERCOM says that collaborating with academia will help the command achieve four main goals. The first is to engage the future workforce by creating a more diverse, robust, and accessible pool of qualified cyber professionals for military and civilian roles. Secondly, USCYBERCOM wants to increase cyber applied research and innovation with cutting-edge research to better understand options, problems, solutions, and innovation opportunities. The AEN will also help expand cyber-focused analytic partnerships through exchanges and directed research to foster unique competencies, capacities, and expertise, which will provide insight into cyberspace activities conducted by adversaries. The final goal is to enrich strategic cyber dialogue by informing academic institutions of the command’s roles, authorities, key issues, and responsibilities in national security and cyber operations.