The National Security Agency (NSA) and the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) designated the Air Force Institute of Technology as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Operations for the period 2013-2018. The goal of the CAE program is to strengthen national security by promoting higher education and research in Cyber Operations with a particular emphasis on technologies and techniques related to specialized cyber operations (e.g., collection, exploitation, and response) and producing a growing number of professionals with cyber operations expertise in various disciplines. The program identifies institutions offering a cyber curriculum that has deep technical foundations in computer science, computer engineering and/or electrical engineering, and interdisciplinary research with extensive opportunities for hands-on applications through cyber labs and exercises.
After a rigorous application and screening process, AFIT's Master's of Science degrees in Cyber Operations and Cyber Warfare were recognized as graduate level curriculum satisfying NSA's rigorous academic requirements and program criteria. These degree programs are offered by AFIT's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering along with significant support from AFIT's Center for Cyberspace Research (CCR).
The CAE-Cyber Operations Program supports the President's National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE): Building a Digital Nation and complements AFIT's 2009 designation in NSA's existing CAEs in Information Assurance Education and Research Programs.
The Center for Cyberspace Research (CCR), established in March 2002, conducts defense-focused research at the Master's and PhD levels. Defense focused research is a key mission component of the CCR. CCR affiliated faculty possess extensive operational experience in military communications and security. In addition, the faculty members have close working relationships with Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, NSA, and other Air Force organizations. This synergistic approach promotes an environment for collaborative research that solves real-world cyber security issues facing our nation and national defense.
To support the Air Force and DOD mission to grow its cyber security workforce, the Center has developed four cyber Professional Continuing Education courses that augment the graduate degree programs. These courses are the senior and master cyber professional rating courses Cyber 200 and Cyber 300 courses, the Advanced Cyber Education (ACE) cyber security boot camp program, and the TALON program for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education. All programs are a unique blend of current cyber policy, doctrine, and law with applications of emerging technologies by hands-on experimentation.
The CCR staff and affiliated faculty teach and perform research focusing on understanding and developing advanced cyber-related theories and technologies. In 2008, AFIT and the CCR were designated by the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff as the Air Force Cyberspace Technical Center of Excellence.