Newswise — The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have designated the University of North Florida’s School of Computing as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) through 2024.

This is a prestigious national recognition for the School of Computing, where faculty worked diligently to complete an outstanding proposal, assessment and portfolio under the leadership of Dr. Swapnoneel Roy, UNF associate professor of computing.

“I’m very pleased that our undergraduate curriculum was recognized by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security,” said Dr. Sherif Elfayoumy, UNF School of Computing director. “The designation will put the UNF School of Computing programs in cybersecurity on the national stage.”

Institutions are chosen and accredited based on their degree programs and alignment to specific cybersecurity-related curriculum knowledge units, validated by subject matter experts in the field. This designation plays an important role in addressing a shortage of cybersecurity professionals and highlights the importance of higher education in defending America’s cyberspace.

Graduates from CAE-CDE designated programs are equipped with the skills to help protect national security information systems, commercial networks and critical information infrastructure in the private and public sectors.

“The cybersecurity field is one of the fastest-growing and adapting fields in both the public and commercial sectors of industry," said UNF computing alumna Stephanie McMahon, TIAA IT auditor. “I’m very proud for my alma mater as this is a very exciting time to be involved in the age of information technology and cybersecurity.”

The CAE-CDE designation will allow the University’s Computing programs to continue its focus on providing experiential hands-on training in a real-world environment to become professionals with cybersecurity expertise. This designation also makes students eligible for special research grants and scholarships.

This recognition and the School of Computing’s new modern cybersecurity lab will provide UNF students with access to cutting-edge training and skills that are much needed in the marketplace.


This fall, the School of Computing launched a new dedicated cyber security lab. To help prepare students for that future reality, the School of Computing is collaborating with Pax Technology, an international supplier of electronic payment terminals and transaction software. Pax Technology’s North America headquarters is located in Jacksonville.

 UNF has remodeled a computer lab to serve as a cybersecurity lab, and Pax Technology has committed $100,000 to fund scholarships and activities for students interested in cybersecurity. The money will be spent on student scholarships, graduate assistantships and research projects for student participation. They want to train our students on these technologies and have offered to teach a number of courses as well. The lab accommodates 30 students.

 UNF’s Center for Cybersecurity exists to provide program guidance and oversight, general cyber defense information as well as collaboration and outreach opportunities among students, faculty and other institutions on the First Coast.

 UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.






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