June 30, 2017

Marisa Ellis, Whatcom Community College PIO
Whatcom Community College

NSA names Whatcom Community College one of four Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyberdefense National Resource Centers

Whatcom Community College (WCC) in Bellingham, WA has been selected by the National Security Agency (NSA) to lead efforts to improve and expand cybersecurity education nationwide as one of four Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyberdefense (CAE-CD) National Resource Centers. In this role, WCC will function as a “super hub,” helping to support and guide 10 regional centers.  Whatcom will lead the CAE-CD mentor program, guiding university and college administrators and faculty through the rigorous application for the CAE-CD designation. The NSA bestows the designation, which recognizes colleges and universities that meet industry-recognized standards of education and training in the cyberdefense field, with curriculum mapped to the NSA’s latest requirements. The College will receive up to $1 million in federal grant funding, which will significantly expand the number of participating institutions in the United States. As one of four national centers funded to support various aspects of the initiative, WCC was designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cyber Defense 2-year education (CAE2Y) in 2011 and, again, in 2014. Whatcom was among the first community colleges in the nation to earn the designation. “WCC has years of experience and is a national leader in cybersecurity education. Our CIS and cybersecurity programs are models of excellence,” WCC President Kathi Hiyane-Brown said. “We’re honored to share our program models with other academic institutions to help prepare qualified employees for the cyberdefense workforce, which is vital to our national security.” The grant project will leverage the mentor model program that WCC developed under previous grants. The program will connect candidate institutions with a qualified mentor who will assist the applicant in improving their cybersecurity program and completing the CAE-CD application. This process helps to ensure that the application is of high quality and meets NSA standards prior to submission. Through this process, colleges and universities can save time, effort, resources and frustration, and achieve a meaningful designation that will help attract faculty and students and even spur economic development in their region. About WCC’s CIS and Cybersecurity Programs: WCC offers a bachelor of applied science (BAS) in IT Networking as well as two-year degrees and certificates in computer information systems and cybersecurity (with opportunities to transfer to regional universities). WCC is also the lead institution for CyberWatch West – a National Science Foundation (NSF) regional center for cybersecurity education – and for C5 (Catalyzing Computing and Cybersecurity at Community Colleges), also funded by the NSF. More than 110 universities, colleges, high schools, and educational organizations belong to the CyberWatch West consortium. For more information about WCC’s computer information systems and cybersecurity programs, visit

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