Norwich Computing and the Center for Advanced Computing and Digital Forensics Designated a National Center of Excellence

Norwich Computing and the Center for Advanced Computing and Digital Forensics Designated a National Center of Excellence

By Peter Stephenson, PhD
Associate Professor & Director, Norwich University Center for Advanced Computing and Digital Forensics

The computing program has been re-designated a Center of Digital Forensics Academic Excellence (CDFAE) by the Defense Cyber Crime Center (DC3), part of the Department of Defense (DoD). The CDFAE designation is rigorous, requiring extensive course-mapping to DC3’s learning objectives, a complete approved forensics lab and a site visit from DC3 evaluators. Designations last for three years and must then be renewed. Norwich computing was rated in all four academic levels: 100, 200, 300, and 400, corresponding to first-year, sophomore, junior and senior level courses. The program is one of nine in the US and the only one to achieve designation at all four levels. Designation as a CDFAE will allow our digital forensics students to take a special certification exam at the end of their senior years. Passing the exam qualifies them to work in digital forensics for the DoD.

College of Professional Schools Dean Aron Temkin attended the DC3 question-and-answer session with me and students.

“While I knew that we could make a strong case for this designation, I was nonetheless very pleased to hear all the ways that we are leading from the front in this course of study,” Temkin said. “And the students comported themselves so well when called upon to answer questions regarding their experience and the resources available to them.”

In November 2011, Norwich University officials announced it had been named one of eight colleges by the US Department of Defense Cybercrime Center (DC3) as a pilot university of the Center of Digital Forensic Academic Excellence (CDFAE) program.

The program was designed to partner academia with government in an effort to establish industry standards for digital forensic education.

Norwich was among the first schools to carry this designation as one of the original pilot group. But this pilot designation needed to be updated when the program was opened officially to all colleges and universities. We were very pleased to hear official word of our final designation prior to Veteran’s Day 2014, so we could share this good news with many of our alumni and guests.

This designation spotlights Norwich as the home of one of the top cyber forensics academic programs in the United States, and, perhaps, in the world.

Our sophisticated virtual computing systems that support information security and digital forensics labs and research are a model for other colleges and universities. They will add materially to our already advanced courses in both disciplines.

Norwich offers a bachelor of science in computer security and information assurance (BSCSIA) with concentrations in cyber forensics and advanced information assurance. In February 2014, this program was rated the number two cyber security academic program in the United States by the Ponemon Institute, which surveyed nearly 2,000 certified information security professionals rating 403 colleges and universities throughout the country.

This academic excellence pilot program was designed to validate the criteria before other schools apply for the designation.

“CDFAE is a team sport where everybody wins: The college and university partners win through sharpened curricula that becomes a differentiator for the schools and their students. Industry wins in receiving smart grads with turnkey knowledge and skills. And beyond that, government wins as CDFAE helps deepen our national bench in scarce skills to support law enforcement and national security requirements,” said DC3 Executive Director Steven Shirley. “CDFAE creates an optimal outcome for all partners.”

Norwich has been leading from the front in cybersecurity ever since it was named a Center of Excellence in information assurance education by the US National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security in 2001.