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UND designated as Cyber Security Center of Excellence in Research

Designation will help open doors for research, funding at UND

UND has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Research (CAE-R) institution through 2029. This marks the first time the University has received such a designation and comes on the heels of increased cybersecurity research projects on campus.

The CAE-R program is among a number of programs within the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C). The notice of approval was sent to Prakash Ranganathan, director of the Center for Cyber Security Research, housed within the UND College of Engineering & Mines.

The designation means that UND has joined the national community of Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (CAE-C) institutions, which is committed to increasing the number of cybersecurity professionals dedicated to reducing vulnerabilities in the national infrastructure.

UND President Andy Armacost offered his congratulations to those on campus who diligently worked on receiving the CAE-R designation.

“I am exceptionally proud of the hard work that went into this important designation, which recognizes UND’s ability to make a truly national impact in cyber research,” said Armacost. “Congratulations to the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Dr. Prakash Ranganathan for this signature achievement. UND’s exceptional faculty and academic programs make us the go-to university for anyone studying cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and data science.”

Both Ranganathan and Brian Tande, dean of the College of Engineering & Mines offered their thanks to Jamison Jangula, cybersecurity analyst for the College of Engineering & Mines, for his efforts in working to secure the CAE-R designation. Tande expressed his gratitude for receiving the designation and said it will pave the way for future opportunities at UND.

“Achieving this important designation will open up research funding opportunities for our faculty, as well as scholarships and career opportunities for our students,” he said. “We are all grateful to Dr. Ranganathan, Jamison Jangula, and the rest of the team for this significant accomplishment.”

Ranganathan said the CAE-R designation underscores the quality of the UND cybersecurity curriculum as well as its alignment with current industry and governmental standards. He said the designation can boost an institution’s ability to attract grants and funding from both government and private sources interested in advancing cybersecurity research.

In addition, Ranganathan said the increased visibility that comes from the designation has the potential to increase student applications from individuals looking for leading programs in cybersecurity. The designation can facilitate collaborations with other CAE-designated institutions, government agencies and industry partners, providing access to joint projects, shared resources, and expertise.

The designation also carries with it the potential for community engagement and economic development, Ranganathan said. CAE-R institutions frequently engage with their local communities through outreach programs, workshops and seminars to raise awareness about cybersecurity.

The enhanced reputation and capabilities in cybersecurity can also attract companies and investments to the region, contributing to economic development and job creation.

“The CAE-R designation is more than just recognition, it’s a catalyst for comprehensive growth and development in cybersecurity research and education,” Ranganathan said. “It signifies a step toward becoming a hub of excellence in cybersecurity, attracting talent, funding and partnerships that will elevate the institution’s status and impact in the field.”

In June, Ranganathan will attend a welcoming ceremony at an upcoming National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) conference in early June. There, he will receive the certificate denoting inclusion in the CAE-R program, meet program staff and engage with members of the cybersecurity community.

The conferring of the CAE-R designation comes shortly after UND received funding to participate with a national laboratory and other institutions and entities to develop software algorithms to protect a portion of the nation’s energy grid.

In furtherance of its cybersecurity efforts, UND has announced calls for papers for the upcoming Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Cyber Awareness and Research Symposium (CARS 2024), taking place on October 28-29, which will take place on campus. This conference marks the first time the IEEE has approved a national level cybersecurity symposium in North Dakota.

In receiving the CAE-R designation, Ranganathan offered his thanks and gratitude to Tommy Morris, director of the Center for Cybersecurity Research and Education at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Morris, a mentor to Ranganathan, offered his generous support in preparing for the application package for the designation.