University of Akron receives designation as Regional Programming Center by Ohio Cyber Range Institute

10/15/2020

The University of Akron’s (UA) cybersecurity program is continuing to be recognized by the state of Ohio as a vital piece of the Ohio Cyber Range to thwart cyber adversaries and provide cybersecurity education to educators, students and professionals.

UA was designated as an Ohio Cyber Range Institute Regional Programming Center (OCRI-RPC) during a designation ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 14. The ceremony was part of the second annual Cybersecurity Education Symposium and included remarks by Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

A Regional Programming Center designation enables UA to support the needs of cybersecurity, information and operation technology professionals at the local, state, regional and national levels. It will provide educational and operational support for K-12 and higher education educators and students, as well as government and business organizations.

A professor in front of a cybersecurity class at The University of Akron

Associate Professor of Practice Stanley Smith leads a cybersecurity class in November 2019 in the R.C. Musson and Katherine M. Musson Charitable Foundation ICS Testbed, where UA students have access to state-of-the-art equipment.

UA is the only university – public or private – in northern Ohio to receive this designation. The University joined Ohio University, The Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Dayton as a designated Ohio Cyber Range Institute Regional Programming Center. With the designation, UA will focus its activities on the areas of cyber forensics, cyber disasters and cybersecurity to combat digital threats.

“The University of Akron's mission as a regional programming center is to advance an integrated approach to cyber education for workforces and economic development in cyber- and digital-related fields,” says Stanley Smith, liaison for the Ohio Cyber Range Institute Regional Programming Center and associate professor of practice of Disaster Science and Emergency Services. “The programming center designation will also enable us to connect researchers in academia, conduct emergency preparedness planning and perform cyber- and digital-related competitive exercises.”

Committed to cyber and threat management

“This OCRI-RPC designation marks an exciting time at The University of Akron,” says Dr. Stacy Willett, acting chair of UA’s Department of Disaster Science and Emergency Services and director of UA’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security program. “It demonstrates the commitment of not only the University in the area of cyber and threat management into the future, but also the synergy and partnerships that we can establish with common interest across the state of Ohio. Cybersecurity has become a worldwide necessity and The University of Akron stands ready to help lead the fight against digital threats.

The initiatives will be anchored by the R.C. Musson and Katherine M. Musson Charitable Foundation ICS Testbed, which opened in December 2019. The simulation lab (also known in research communities as an industrial control systems “testbed”) will permit corporate information technology and operational technology professionals to practice identifying and responding to threats on an emulated network and be a location for training programs from external providers.

UA virtually accepted the award of designation in the Musson Testbed in the Polsky Building.

In January 2019, UA was selected to join Ohio’s statewide cyber range, an environment to train the cybersecurity workforce in constituencies such as government, public, private, military and education. The $1.18 million agreement doubled the capacity of the Ohio Cyber Range, established in 2018, by adding servers, storage and programming at UA. The first range network opened in 2018 at the University of Cincinnati.

UA is the first public university in Ohio to offer a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems (CIS) with a focus in cybersecurity. Officially launched in 2018, it is among the first cybersecurity degree tracks in the U.S. that includes courses in applied cryptography (the science of encrypting messages), which are typically offered at the graduate level.


Media contact: Alex Knisely, 330-972-6477 or aknisely@uakron.edu.