Wilkes Community College (WCC) has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) by the National Security Agency (NSA). The designation is in effect through the 2028 academic year. This designation is awarded to regionally accredited academic institutions offering cybersecurity degrees and certificates at the associate, bachelor, and graduate levels.

The role of the CAE-CD program is to improve the overall cybersecurity posture of the United States. By promoting and supporting quality academic programs of higher learning that help produce the nation’s cyber workforce, the CAE-CD designation helps to ensure that the nation is better prepared to defend against cyber threats and attacks.

“CAE-CD designated institutions are at the forefront of cybersecurity training through educational opportunities for students and community engagement. Graduates from these programs are highly sought after by employers in the networking and security fields,” said WCC Instructor, Jere Miles. “This recognition should help to attract students and industry partners, as well as further funding and collaboration with government agencies.”

Business and Public Service Technologies Dean, Joe Exposito stated, “I’d like to thank the following faculty members and administrators Dr. Melonie Kilby, chair, Business and Public Service; Randall McNeil, instructor, Information Technology; Kristen Macemore, vice president of Instruction; and Michael Wingler, vice president of Information Technology and Operations for their assistance in the application process. Without the support of the team, we would not have been able to complete this process. We are collectively dedicated to enhancing the cybersecurity educational opportunities available to our students and community at large.”

“This is a great accomplishment for WCC and particularly our Information Technology program, confirming our commitment to excellence in education”, says Kristen Macemore, vice president of Instruction. “This recognition opens up exciting opportunities for our students.”

“I am absolutely thrilled,” says Dr. Melonie Kilby, chair of Technology and Public Service. “This designation means that we are recognized and certified by the NSA as an institution committed to producing cybersecurity professionals who will address vulnerabilities in our national infrastructure.” Dr. Kilby added, “This designation puts Wilkes Community College on the map as one of 19 institutions in North Carolina with high-quality academic programs in cybersecurity, which will no doubt lead to increased visibility and growth of those programs.”

Jason Shropshire, chief operating officer at InfusionPoints, LLC and member of the Cybersecurity Advisory Council stated, “Wilkes Community College’s recent recognition as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the NSA is a testament to the institution’s commitment to training our local workforce for jobs of the future including filling the demand for cybersecurity professionals. This designation ensures that graduates from their programs are equipped with the essential expertise sought after in the dynamic fields of networking and security. As an employer, we value the high standards upheld by CAE-CD designated institutions and recognize the unique value that individuals trained at Wilkes Community College bring to the workforce. This achievement solidifies the college’s role in shaping a skilled and sought-after cyber workforce, making their graduates a valuable asset for employers in the cybersecurity industry.”

Institutions that receive a CAE-CD designation have met rigorous requirements set by the NSA. Further, the program 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 National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (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, Wilkes Community College has access to resources to assist in the creation of community workshops, marketing, classroom activities, and other communication tools. The NCAE-C community actively engages with representatives from the government to provide educational workshops, scholarship assistance, conferences, and working groups. The community also partners with industry to ensure that students entering the cyber workforce have the needed knowledge and skills for a successful career in cybersecurity.

If you’re interested in exploring the cyber lab or want to know more about the various IT educational opportunities available to you, we invite you to attend a community information session on December 19th from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The session will be held on the second floor of Lowe’s Hall, located on the Wilkes Community College campus. For more information, contact Jere Miles at jdmiles944@wilkescc.edu or visit our website https://www.wilkescc.edu/cyber-center.