UH Maui College Receives Key Designation in Cyber Defense Education

The University of Hawai‘i Maui College (UHMC) has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in cyber defense education through academic year 2024 for its four-year Applied Business and Information Technology (ABIT) bachelor’s degree program.

The designation is given by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to promote higher education and research in cyber defense, and produce professionals with cyber defense expertise. Nationwide, only about 200 universities have been admitted to the CAE program.

Photo: UH Maui College

UH Maui College was approved after meeting a very rigorous criteria and validates the courses offered UHMC to be closely aligned with national standards in cybersecurity by experts in the field. The designation opens up more opportunities for scholarships, grants and other avenues to develop the curriculum. Additionally, corporations and government agencies, such as military branches who are seeking cybersecurity education contracts look to only universities within the CAE program.

The initiative was led by ABIT Program Coordinator Debasis Bhattacharya, who also oversees activities under UHMC’s Center for Cybersecurity Education and Research, which was established in 2015. The center has engaged the local community with cybersecurity education and workforce training throughout the years.

“Current and future students of our cybersecurity programs can be more confident about the training they receive at UHMC,” said Bhattacharya. “Not only it is an impressive thing to have on a resume, but the center is committed to providing a competitive and resilient workforce to help address vulnerabilities in our community’s security.”

A Pathway to Multiple Industries

Today, the exchange of goods and payments can be made with mobile phones. Farmers, teachers and utility workers all rely on collected, accurate data to produce the best crop, educate successful students and provide quality service. This explains why students of the ABIT program all have varied backgrounds with different career options.

The core of the program is intentionally a multidisciplinary approach on technology entrepreneurship where students are trained to be “cyber savvy” enough to gain basic principles they can apply in their field of choice. At the culmination of the program, students must defend their capstone project from public inquiries – typically a business plan for a product or software they developed.

Responsible Hacking

Cybersecurity is one of the skills emphasized in the course. Where there is data mined, which researchers and marketers consider “gold,” there is a similarly sophisticated hacker industry zealous to make profit from it.

Photo: UH Maui College

Experts know that the best way to minimize or completely eradicate opportunities for hackers is knowledge on how they operate. The cybersecurity program at UHMC offers virtual environments and training needed for hacking skills, which can be used for business and community building.

County of Maui police officers, principals and vice principals of Maui schools, and information technology personnel have also participated in a mobile forensics workshop held at UHMC. With cybercrimes becoming more prevalent and more complicated today, these workshops provide the training and tools needed to help professionals become better at their job. Almost every police case today has a mobile device or CCTV camera involved, which oftentimes have valuable information stored. “With recent updates on social media, new theories on mobile forensics, more specialized gadgets and software, the Maui community and the State of Hawai‘i is fortunate to have another accredited center for technology education at UH Maui College,” said UHMC Chancellor Lui Hokoana. “The recognition does not only validate the quality of education offered at UHMC for future generations, but it gives our students the confidence needed to embrace technology and use it to help make a difference one byte at a time.”