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Capitol Receives Grant to Establish Security Operations Center

Plans to establish a Security Operations Center (SOC) as part of Capitol Technology University’s cybersecurity program have received a boost, thanks to the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (IMCP).

The ICMCP last month awarded Capitol $5,000 to help set up the SOC, which will enable cybersecurity students to practice their skills in an environment similar to that of many large organizations with extensive networks and highly sensitive information assets. With the launch, Capitol will become one of the first colleges and universities in the world to create such a facility for educational purposes.

“While SOCs do exist at some colleges and universities for the purposes of defending their networks, most schools don’t use them to teach students and give them experience.  That’s what’s unique about our SOC,” explained Dr. William Butler, who chairs the cybersecurity program at Capitol. “We plan to integrate the SOC into class functions; for every class that students take, there will be a task at the SOC that they must complete.”

“Students will get real world experience built into the curriculum for the entire time they’re here, becoming what’s called a threat analyst. In the real world they’ll be doing the same thing: looking at the traffic coming in from the internet to your enterprise, examining that traffic, and trying to diagnose attacks – trying to pick up real intelligence as it pertains to threats that are out there. Our students will not only gain valuable experience through having access to SOC, but they’ll gain specific skills that they can put on their resume,” he said.

The ICMCP’s donation was presented at the organization’s second annual convention, and is intended to help set up basic operational capabilities at the SOC, including obtaining software licenses and the necessary hardware, Butler said. The ICMCP, he said, recognized Capitol’s efforts to promote minority participation in STEM fields, such as cybersecurity.

“They value what we’re doing in this arena,” he said.

Capitol students have been deeply involved in developing the idea of a SOC on campus and bringing it to fruition. Indeed, the plan originated with student Ashlei Cash, who drafted a concept paper as part of a senior project.

Current students Marcus Mabson and Zack Blankenship took the next steps involved in designing the SOC, and future students will build on the work already done, extending its capabilities.

“We’re all very excited about this new resource at Capitol,” Butler said. “We’re going to be able to announce something that no other school in Maryland currently offers. Giving students the opportunity to work in a SOC is particularly valuable, because that’s often the first job cybersecurity students look for after graduation. Our students will already have the relevant experience on their resumes when they enter the job market.”

Professor Rick Hansen, a member of the cybersecurity faculty at Capitol, has been instrumental in forging the partnership with the ICMCP and transforming the SOC concept from a vision to reality. Hansen is urging Capitol alumni, as well as business and industry, to contribute their support.

“Capitol is very grateful for the ICMCP’s donation. Alumni and corporate contributions will amplify the impact of the ICMCP award. Please reach out to Capitol to play your part in the start of a new chapter in cybersecurity education and training,” Hansen said. Contact advancement@CapTechU.edu to discuss opportunities to contribute.

About ICMCP

The ICMCP, launched in 2014, is a volunteer-led 501(c)3 non-profit organization. ICMCP is working to bridge the minority gap in the cybersecurity sector by providing scholarship opportunities, technical training programs, innovative outreach, mentoring and networking programs targeting women and minority cybersecurity professionals worldwide and by promoting academic and technical excellence in the industry.

About Capitol Technology University

Capitol Technology University is the only independent college in Maryland dedicated to education in engineering, computer science, information technology and business through practices of leadership and innovation. Founded in 1927, Capitol offers associate, bachelor’s and master's degrees, doctoral programs in cybersecurity and management and decision sciences, and professional development training and certificates.The university campus is located in Laurel, Maryland, in a suburban setting midway between Baltimore and Washington, DC. www.captechu.edu.

Date: 
Monday, April 17, 2017