The Upper Peninsula Cybersecurity Institute at NMU was unveiled May 2 during a well-attended grand opening celebration in The Northern Center (formerly University Center).
The institute is the only U.P. facility of its kind and one of six statewide. It offers non-degree and industry credentials relevant to emerging careers, augments NMU's existing cyber defense bachelor's degree and provides career exploration and training opportunities for K-12 school districts.
NMU, in partnership with the Merit Network and Michigan Economic Development Corp., hosted the grand opening. The event included a Capture the Flag challenge for U.P. high school students and a HackerOne class. There was also a panel presentation featuring several industry representatives, including May 2018 NMU graduate Meredith Miller, security services consultant with key industry partner IBM Security.
Miller held an internship with IBM Security during her senior year at NMU. She accepted a full-time position in the Boston area, but soon found herself longing to return to Marquette. Because her career allows the flexibility of working remotely, she recently booked a one-way ticked back. Miller said the U.P. Cybersecurity Institute is an amazing addition that will enable others to succeed in her field.
“If something like this had been around when I was a student, I can only imagine how much further my skills would have developed,” Miller said. “The fact high school and college students are getting this experience now is phenomenal. They're really going to excel and go places. There's a huge shortage of trained professionals. Because people in this field can work and live where they choose, not everyone is fighting for jobs in local markets. This helps to show that cybersecurity can happen anywhere.”
In an increasingly connected world in which nearly every aspect of life is dependent upon technology, cybersecurity has become a critical challenge. Consistent with its strategic goal to invest in innovation, Northern is committed to providing the education and training that prepares students to succeed in this dynamic and growing field.
“The most important part of this institute partnership is the people it's bringing together,” said Jim Marquardson, who joined the College of Business faculty four years ago to establish NMU's cyber defense program. “We've got a good program here at the university and support from our leadership. I'm especially grateful for professionals working in cybersecurity, our advisory board and the people willing to work with us, give us guidance, help mentor our students and open up doors for them that would otherwise not be available. I'm excited to see what our students are able to do with these enhanced opportunities.”
The institute also will serve as a site for industry collaboration, testing, training and certification.
“We want this hub to be a magnet for the community,” said Joe Adams, vice president of research and cybersecurity with Merit Network and builder of the Michigan Cyber Range. “We want it to bring together industry, government, academia and students of all ages to help grow a culture of security. That culture will lead people looking for work, including veterans returning from the Armed Forces, into cybersecurity. These jobs are well-paying and they can be done from home. Folks live up here because they want to live in the U.P. I don't see why they have to leave, given the connectivity and opportunities that a hub like this brings. “