Jim Killian, 334/844-4218


AUBURN -- The National Security Agency has designated Auburn University as a Center of Academic Excellence because of its outstanding programs in information security and assurance.

The designation from NSA will allow AU to apply for scholarships and grants from federal information assurance scholarship programs.

Larry Benefield, dean of AU's Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, and Drew Hamilton, associate professor of computer science and head of Auburn's Information Assurance Laboratory, accepted the designation during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Auburn's designation as a Center of Academic Excellence was largely the result of ongoing work being conducted by Hamilton for the federal Missile Defense Agency.

Hamiltonšs group is conducting software vulnerability analysis for the agency to ensure that software is protected against cyberterrorism and that software shared with U.S. allies does not contain classified code.

"I am very excited and honored that Auburn has been named a Center of Academic Excellence," said Hamilton. "Not only does it offer greater opportunities for faculty and students at Auburn, we also have the satisfaction of doing research that enhances our nation's information security."

The CAE program was created to help create a cadre of professionals with information expertise across various disciplines. The program focuses both on developing the information assurance workforce of the future and on sustaining new research in information assurance areas.

While the CAE designation does not guarantee federal funding, many federal grants are available only to NSA Centers of Excellence. In addition, Auburn can now apply for scholarships and grants through information assurance scholarship programs offered by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense.

AU's designation by the NSA as a Center of Excellence came after a rigorous review that measured the depth and maturity of its graduate and undergraduate degree programs. The programs must include:

* Information security courses;
* Information security embedded within the curriculum in general;
* Faculty with background in information security;
* Ongoing information security research and publications;
* And, centers committed to working in information security.

Upon satisfying program requirements, designated universities are authorized to certify students as trained, at a minimum, to the federal National Security Telecommunications and Information Security Systems Instruction 4011 Standard for Information Systems Security Professionals. This designation indicates that a university has met the training standards established by the NSTISSI committee.

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CONTACT: Hamilton, 334/844-6360.