The University of Illinois at Chicago has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

The designation, announced today, was awarded by the federal government's National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

"This designation will help our students in computer security, already in substantial demand, as they look for jobs or graduate school admission," said Jon Solworth, associate professor of computer science, who headed efforts by a team of UIC faculty to apply for the designation.

UIC's designation is for five years, after which it can reapply to retain it.

Solworth directs UIC's Center for Research and Instruction in Technologies for Electronic Security, also known as RITES, a multidisciplinary facility that coordinates research and instruction in the fields of security and privacy.

In April 2006, he and V. N. Venkatakrishnan, assistant professor of computer science and co-director of RITES, won approval from NSA to award UIC students certificates of expertise in information systems security. That approval made UIC eligible for National Center designation.

Solworth said the designation opens up opportunities for UIC and its students under the National Science Foundation's Scholarship for Service awards program, designed to increase the number of computer security graduates and to assist institutions by providing grants for equipment and support for instruction in computer security.

"It provides substantial scholarships for those specializing in computer security," he said. "Scholarship holders are employed upon graduation by the federal government, where there is a great need for such specialists."

Solworth added that the National Center designation will help UIC when applying for research grants under the NSF's Cyber Trust program.

National Center designation follows rigorous review of the institution's application and its commitment to academic excellence in information assurance education.

The program originated following a 1998 Presidential Directive to recognize higher education programs in which instruction helps reduce the vulnerability of the nation's information infrastructure.

Copyright 2016 The Board of Trustees
of the University of
Helping Women Faculty Advance
Funded by NSF