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The National Security Agency has selected the University of West Florida as the National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) Cybersecurity Regional Resource Center for the Southeastern region.

In this role, the UWF Center for Cybersecurity will provide leadership to advance cyber defense education among colleges and universities in the region and support new and existing CAE institutions.

UWF will serve as the CAE Regional Resource Center for all institutions of higher education in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Puerto Rico. The university will receive a nearly $200,000 grant and will work with the NSA CAE Program Office and other regional and national hubs across the country to enhance cybersecurity education and expand the CAE Program across the nation.

“This prestigious designation recognizes the excellent and innovative programs offered by the UWF Center for Cybersecurity,” UWF President Martha D. Saunders said. “Our selection as a regional resource center recognizes the leadership role that Dr. Eman El-Sheikh and her team have taken in this vital area. UWF has developed a number of partnerships with key players in the field of cybersecurity that prepare our students for successful careers.”

The CAE-Cyber Defense Program Office named six CAE institutions to serve as CAE Regional Resource Centers, as well as four CAE National Resource Centers and four CAE Consultation Resource Centers across the nation.

In May 2016, the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security designated UWF as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. The National Centers of Academic Excellence program seeks to reduce vulnerability in the nation’s information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense and increasing the number of professionals with cyber defense expertise.

“We are honored to serve as the CAE Regional Resource Center for the Southeast,” said Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, UWF Center for Cybersecurity director. “Building on our successes and partnerships, UWF will lead efforts to advanced cybersecurity education and expand the cybersecurity workforce. We will work to increase the number of CAE designated institutions in the Southeast and also provide support and resources to existing CAE institutions.

“This will include cybersecurity program development support, faculty professional development activities, and enhancing research and education collaborations among Southeast institutions,” El-Sheikh added. “Our mission is highly rewarding: build a strong cybersecurity community to advance education, workforce development and innovation in the Southeast and nationally.”

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