NWACC Becomes First AR Community College to be Designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense | NorthWest Arkansas Community College

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NWACC Becomes First Arkansas Community College to be Designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense

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The National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security recently designated Northwest Arkansas Community College’s (NWACC) Computer Information Systems (CIS) – Networking program as a National Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) for five years, through the 2028 academic year. The designation is awarded to regionally accredited academic institutions that offer quality cybersecurity related degrees and certificates and meet rigorous requirements to prepare students for the nation’s cybersecurity workforce. NWACC is the first community college in Arkansas to receive this designation.

“Such a significant recognition demonstrates the quality of NWACC’s computer networking program and how well equipped our students and graduates are to participate in the national initiative to build, secure and defend our nation’s cyber infrastructure,” said NWACC CIS-Networking Program Coordinator Shankar Ravi. 

NWACC joins the University of Arkansas and University of Arkansas at Little Rock as the three institutions in the state to receive designations from the NSA. As the first Arkansas community college to be designated, NWACC is honored to be recognized for its commitment to excellence in cybersecurity education regionally and nationally.

“CAE-CD designated institutions are viewed as leaders in cybersecurity education,” explained project originator and NWACC Director of Policy and Compliance Kimberly Bertschy. “This recognition will help NWACC attract students and faculty, funding opportunities and collaboration with government agencies, four-year institutions and industry partners.” 

Institutions that receive a CAE-CD designation have met rigorous requirements set forth by the NSA. The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) aims to create and manage a collaborative of cybersecurity educational programs that:

  • Establish standards for cybersecurity curriculum and academic excellence
  • Include competency development among students and faculty
  • Value community outreach and leadership in professional development
  • Integrate cybersecurity practice within the institution across academic disciplines
  • Actively engage in solutions to challenges facing cybersecurity education

The NCAE-C program is managed by NSA's National Cryptologic School. Federal partners include the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)/National Initiative on Cybersecurity Education (NICE), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Defense Office of the Chief Information Officer (DoD-CIO) and U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM).

As part of the NCAE-C community, NWACC has access to resources to aid student success through workshop facilitation, marketing efforts and communication tools. The NCAE-C community actively engages with government representatives to provide educational workshops, opportunities for funding, conferences and working groups. The community also partners with industries to ensure that students entering the next-generation cyber workforce have the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities for a successful career in cybersecurity.


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Visit www.nwacc.edu or call 479-986-4000 to learn more about choosing a higher education with NWACC.