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Capitol College selected to train NSA security engineers

Capitol College has built a strong track record in the field of information assurance, earning the coveted Center of Excellence designation from the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security. Now the Laurel-based school is partnering with the National Security Agency (NSA) to ensure that its personnel stay ahead of the cybersecurity curve.

Under a new agreement, announced in June, Capitol will be one of two academic institutions offering coursework to employees enrolled in the agency’s Security Engineering and Enrichment Development (SEED) program, designed to train NSA Information System Security Engineers (ISSEs). Participants graduate with Information System Security Engineer certification and deep expertise in the field, enabling them to take on key roles at the agency.

Previously, training for SEED participants was offered exclusively by the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), in Monterey, California via “VTC” on the Ft. Meade campus. Trainees will continue to have the option of attending NPS classes, which will now be offered in real-time with NPS professors on the Ft. Meade campus for the program – or they can take it through Capitol, which offers all of the coursework online.

Courses available include such subjects as C programming, Cloud Networks and Services, Forensics, IA Tools, Malware Analysis and Incident Handling, Penetration Testing, Vulnerability Mitigation, Risk Management and UNIX.

“We’re very excited about being selected to provide cybersecurity training as part of this program,” said Xavier A. Richards, director of graduate recruitment. “We feel the flexibility that we offer, along with our strong curriculum, will prove highly attractive to NSA employees seeking to boost their credentials and expertise.”

Capitol’s synchronous delivery system – which incorporates virtual labs as well as online classrooms in which students can interact in real time with their instructors and peers – offers flexibility and convenience, Richards said. At the same time, Capitol’s close proximity to the NSA means the students can also make use of on-campus resources.

“We’re just a couple of exits down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway,” Richards said. “Their students can come here and talk with the faculty and administration in person, or take advantage of the Cyber Lab, our library and other facilities.”

SEED participants who take their training through Capitol will complete three core courses from the school’s Master of Science in Information Assurance (MSIA) curriculum, plus one elective. Students can enroll individually, or as a cohort. In addition to the ISSE, participants will be well-prepared to apply for industry certifications such as the CISSP, CEH and ACEH. They will also have the option of continuing on into the school’s graduate degree programs, which are also offered online.

Strong technical focus

Capitol competed with several larger schools in the area for the opportunity to provide SEED program support. Richards believes it was Capitol’s track record and the strength of its curriculum that provided the school with the winning edge.

 “We have a well-established reputation both among federal agencies and the private sector when it comes to cybersecurity training. We have many current and former students in our MSIA degree program who are working for the NSA, so they were already familiar with the quality of our programs and the calibre of our graduates,” Richards said.

Capitol’s information assurance programs have maintained the Center of Excellence designation for more than twelve years, said Professor William Butler, the program chair (in photo). Moreover, he said, the school cultivates a practical approach to education which translates well into actual on-the-job situations.

 “We’re known for training in cybersecurity in a unique way – we’re live online, and we’re hands-on, with a strong technical focus,” Butler said. “Our professors are working professionals in the field, who do what they teach every day.”

“That sets us apart from other programs that focus more on policy and planning,” he added.

Capitol College 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, a Doctor of Science in Information Assurance, professional development training and certificates.

Academic programs are grounded in Centers of Excellence; these include the Space Operations Institute, the Critical Infrastructures and Cyber Protection Center, the Innovation and Leadership Institute, and the Center for Space Science Education and Public Outreach. The college campus is located in Laurel, Maryland, a suburban setting midway between Baltimore and Washington, DC. www.capitol-college.edu.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014