Cisco Systems Makes Major Gift in Support of Department’s Cybersecurity Initiative
Global technology leader, Cisco Systems, and the Department of Computer Science at NC State University have long enjoyed a deep and sustained partnership over the decades.
The partnership took a giant step forward this fall as Cisco has made a $250,000 unrestricted lead gift via the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in support of Dr. Laurie Williams and the Secure Computing Institute at NC State University. In particular, the unrestricted gift provides foundational funding to support the department’s mission to increase its role as a national leader in cybersecurity education and research, which has been forged by Drs. Williams, Will Enck, Douglas Reeves and Sarah Heckman.
The Security Computing Institute (SCI) was founded at NC State in 2019 and is co-led by Drs. Williams and Enck. The goal of the SCI, a key component of the department’s overall cybersecurity strategy, is to enhance the security and privacy of computing systems through basic and applied research and advancing and delivering cybersecurity education.
“Our goal with this investment is to ensure that when NCSU engineering graduates join the global workforce that cybersecurity is a part of their DNA,” said Anthony Grieco, Vice President and Trust Strategy Officer for Cisco. “We are honored to help accelerate this important program at NCSU, ensuring that the next generation of engineering talent has cybersecurity expertise and is a priority for all engineers.”
Dr. Williams says the Cisco partnership and the significant support they have provided are helping bootstrap the department’s efforts to make some very strategic hires. “The funding allows us to move forward with hiring the core talent to help us launch a new undergraduate cybersecurity concentration, develop an extensive community of practice, and establish a comprehensive, self-sustaining financial model for the future” says Williams. “We are so very thankful to Cisco for their ongoing partnership and in particular, their commitment to helping us strengthen our position of leadership in the cybersecurity space.”
As a tangible result of the support, the department recently hired Dr. Thierry Wandji Ketchiozo, as its Director of Cybersecurity Education. Ketchiozo, a cybersecurity pioneer with more than 15 years of front-line national security experience, now leads our efforts to train the next generation of engineers and computer scientists who will continue the work protecting critical systems from dangerous attacks. The department is currently in the process of hiring a Director of Cybersecurity Practice.
Cisco’s partnership will help the department build on its efforts in recent years to build off a strong foundation in cybersecurity education and research and to become a global leader in the space.
The SCI has pulled together much of the work and funding already in place within the department and other parts of the University, says Dr. Will Enck. “Our Science of Security Lablet has brought in more than $19M in research since it was established in 2012,” says Enck. “We established a master’s track in security in 2017 and an undergraduate track in 2019, and we will launch a new undergraduate concentration starting in spring 2021,” adds Enck. The department plans to soon propose to University officials a master’s degree in cybersecurity.
In 2019, Drs. Reeves and Heckman helped secure a $2.75M award from the National Science Foundation to launch a CyberCorps ® Scholarships for Service program. Five scholarships will be awarded annually to graduate and undergraduate students specializing in cybersecurity. In addition to full tuition, the two-year scholarships provide a generous stipend, health insurance and an allowance for other professional expenses. In return, students agree to work after graduation with a federal, executive-branch government agency for an equal period of time.
Ken Tate, Director of Engagement & External Relations, says the Cisco gift is another example of the department’s strong commitment to partnering with industry. “As a founding Super ePartner with the department, Cisco has played a key role over the years in helping provide not only financial support, but incredible industry perspective and guidance that has helped shape and evolve our educational curriculum,” says Tate. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Cisco for the historical impact they have had on our department, our faculty and staff, and our students.”
For more information on partnering with the department on this or other initiatives, contact Ken Tate (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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