|Professor Dan Manson says the university is a place where future cyber warriors can hone their skills in real-world settings, such as the regional collegiate competition, (pictured at right). The new SCE Virtual Information Assurance Laboratory will further enhance those opportunities.|
"This lab will give faculty and students hands-on access to cutting-edge virtualization technology," says Mahvash Yazdi, a Cal Poly Pomona alumna who recently retired as CIO at Southern California Edison. "As technology advances, so do our risk areas, which is why it is critical to educate the next generation of cyber security professionals. The challenge is to prepare students to anticipate threats and to solve problems that don't exist today."
Richard Lapidus, dean of the College of Business Administration, says the new lab helps the university maintain its polytechnic mission.
"A prerequisite to staying relevant is ongoing partnerships with business, industry and government," he says. "We can partner through leveraging the virtual lab to provide proof-of-concept pilot projects, targeted corporate training and a higher level of collaboration and engagement between the college and outside partners."
The gift makes good business sense for Southern California Edison as well as higher education, says Yazdi, who graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 1974 with a degree in business administration.
"By investing in higher education, SCE is fostering the academic success of its future workforce," she says. "This is very important to SCE, which is why they focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math, all of which build a foundation of student empowerment and innovation."
The lab also serves as the virtual stadium and proving ground for the nation's newest sport. The National Cyber League, which opened its inaugural season last April with seed money provided by the National Science Foundation, gives students a chance to hone their skills though individual and team exercises. Computer information systems Professor Dan Manson served as league commissioner, and he is working on fielding a team this coming year.
"Unlike other cyber competitions in which all teams defend against a common enemy, the goal is for teams and individuals in the NCL to go head to head, defending their turf while trying to take down the opposition," Manson says. "It's like an Ultimate Fighting Championship event, but they're throwing binary numbers instead of fists and elbows."
Cal Poly Pomona has earned a reputation not only as a learning destination
for future cyber professionals, but as a place where students and educators from
throughout the region can hone their skills and gain insights. As host of the annual
California Cyber Challenge Camp during the summer, the university gives participants
firsthand experience evaluating network security.
"Cyber camp attendees have a shared passion to learn cyber security and go into
the field," Manson says. "Our goal is to get to where we can quantify their performance." With that in mind, Cal Poly Pomona has partnered with the L.A. Unified School
District to provide training for CyberPatriot, the largest national cyber defense competition,
created by the Air Force Association for high school students. The Northrop Grumman Foundation recently presented a $1 million grant to the association for CyberPatriot V.
"As the largest provider of cyber security solutions to the federal government, Northrop Grumman knows the skills and talents needed to keep our nation's networks secure," says Diane Miller, Northrop Grumman program director, CyberPatriot and operations director for the company's Cybersecurity Group. "CyberPatriot has reached more than 100,000 students worldwide, sparking excitement among today's youth to help fill the critical gap in our nation's cyber workforce."
The 'learn by doing' approach at Cal Poly Pomona is well aligned with the practical hands-on learning in the CyberPatriot program, says Miller, a 1981 graduate in information systems and a member of the university's National Development Council. "The CyberPatriot competitors are well-prepared for the rigors of the Cal Poly Pomona collegiate experience."
The College of Business Administration provides
a technologically driven, career-focused education
featuring unique applied learning experiences that allow students to hone their leadership skills and prepare them to make an immediate impact upon graduation.
The primary campaign focus for the college includes funding for the new building complex, resources to fund centers of excellence and the endowment of student scholarships.
Richard Lapidus, Dean
Jeff Cox, Director of Development