Cybersecurity Program Earns Esteemed Designation

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WINTERVILLE—The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have designated Pitt Community College a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE).

The formal recognition, according to National CAE Program Director Karen Leuschner, means PCC’s cybersecurity programming is proficient in preparing skilled and knowledgeable cybersecurity professionals to help protect the national information infrastructure.

In a letter to PCC officials notifying them of their successful CAE-CDE bid, Leuschner said: “A highly-skilled cybersecurity workforce is a strategic national security advantage.” She went on to say the federal government would “continue to invest in and enhance programs that build the domestic talent pipeline, from primary through postsecondary education.”

The CAE-CDE program, which is co-sponsored by the NSA and DHS, was established in response to an increasing number of cybersecurity attacks on individuals and businesses. Cybersecurity professionals defend against cyber threats for a number of organizations, including federal, state and local governments, banks and industries.

To earn CAE-CDE designation, PCC underwent an in-depth assessment by the U.S. government and met a number of rigorous requirements. Greg Robison, PCC Computer Technologies Department chair, says Pitt began working toward CAE-CDE designation in 2018—the same year the White House released its National Cyber Strategy to address a critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals and highlight the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace.

“It is an honor to receive the CAE-CDE designation,” Robison said. “This designation sets us apart from other colleges and is a recognition of the quality of our cybersecurity degree. It assures employers and students that our degree program is mapped to a rigorous national standard for cybersecurity education.”

In addition to a two-year degree in Information Technology: Cybersecurity, Robison says PCC offers a cybersecurity certificate, and a high school IT Pathway in cybersecurity through North Carolina’s Career and College Promise program.

All regionally accredited two-year, four-year, and graduate-level institutions in the United States can apply for CAE-CDE designation, which is valid for five academic years. After that, schools must successfully reapply in order to retain it.

Nearly 300 institutions of higher learning—representing 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico—have achieved CAE-CDE status. PCC is one of five North Carolina community colleges to have earned the designation and one of 11 schools in the state overall.

PCC’s CAE-CDE designation is valid through 2025.