N.M. Tech Receives National Designation as Center of Excellence, April 8, 2001

Peter Anselmo, Andrew Sung
SOCORRO, N.M., April 8, 2002 -- New Mexico Tech recently was designated by the National Security Agency (NSA) as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education for academic years 2002 through 2005, joining an elite list of only 36 universities across the country that have ever been awarded this distinction.

A formal presentation recognizing New Mexico Tech's recent NSA certification will be held during the Sixth Annual Conference of the National Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education, on June 4, 2002, at Microsoft Corporation's headquarters in Redmond, Wash.

"Our being named to this select group -- which includes other distinguished universities such as Carnegie-Mellon, Georgia Tech, Purdue, and Stanford -- highlights New Mexico Tech's commitment to education and research in the field of information assurance and information systems security and speaks highly of our university's Information Technology (IT) degree program and related Institute for Complex Additive Systems Analysis (ICASA)," New Mexico Tech President Daniel H. López said.

"In addition, this new designation will assist us in seeking additional federal funding for scholarships and research grants in this critically important area of information assurance," López added.

According to New Mexico Tech computer science professor and department chairman Andrew Sung, there are 10 specific criteria that universities must meet in order to achieve designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

"Some of the most important criteria are: attaining or exceeding national standards in the curriculum we offer; having faculty who have expertise with published papers in this area; having sufficient library holdings to support such a program; and having an on-campus research center dedicated to related fields, which in our case is ICASA," Sung pointed out.

"The applications submitted by universities for the designation process are all rigorously reviewed by a national board comprised of representatives from government, industry, and academia," Sung said, "so this is certainly quite an accomplishment for New Mexico Tech, especially when you consider the other schools that we're in the same league with now."

Sung, who was instrumental in drafting the application submitted to the NSA that resulted in Tech's recent designation, is also co-coordinator of the university's IT degree program and a research scientist at ICASA.

"This NSA designation certainly ranks as one of the most significant achievements in my more than 15 years here at Tech's computer science department," Sung relates, "and I'm very grateful to President López and ICASA director and Tech vice president Denny Peterson, as well as [Tech] vice presidents Gerity, Romero, and Fernandez, for having the foresight and employing the strategic planning that made ICASA and the IT program a reality."

The NSA's Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program is intended to reduce vulnerabilities in the national information infrastructure by promoting higher education in information assurance and producing a growing number of professionals with information assurance expertise in various disciplines.

In addition to the NSA designation, New Mexico Tech's IT curriculum also was recently certified as compliant for information assurance professionals in federal departments and agencies by the National Security Telecommunications and Information Systems Security Instruction's National Training Standard for INFOSEC Professionals.