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Watch: Cybersecurity Designation's Impact

EFSC Cybersecurity Center Earns National Designation

April 28, 2022 - Eastern Florida State College has been named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the U.S. government for the role its cybersecurity programs are playing to help protect the nation’s critical information infrastructure.

The prestigious recognition came from the National Security Agency (NSA) as part of an initiative to validate programs of study and applies to the college’s Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics on the Palm Bay Campus.

People accepting award for Cybersecurity designation on stage
Nicole Dyess, EFSC Associate Professor and Program Manager, EFSC Center for Cybersecurity, accepts the official NSA certification during a June 8, 2022 conference in Atlanta where she was accompanied by EFSC Associate Professor Dr. John Combs and Dr. Michael Daniels, Computer Programs Academic Chair.

NSA officials said the EFSC programs are playing an essential part in protecting the digital systems that make the country run.

The college “is helping reduce the threats to our national security infrastructure by promoting higher education and research in cyber defense as well as providing the nation with a pipeline of qualified cybersecurity professionals,” the NSA said in announcing the designation.

EFSC's Cybersecurity Center on the Palm Bay Campus supports Bachelor Degree, Associate Degree and College Certificate programs, with college officials calling the designation a sign of EFSC’s growing prominence in the field.

“The honor is the result of years of hard work by the college to build a first-class cybersecurity program and the dedication of our superb faculty and staff who have made it happen. It really puts us on the educational map in this critical field, “ said EFSC President Dr. Jim Richey.

Nicole Dyess, Program Manager for EFSC’s Center for Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics, led the effort to gain the designation.

“What makes this so valuable is that students now know they are studying the practices deemed most important by two of the largest cybersecurity employers in the world, the National Security Agency and Defense Department,”  said Dyess.

“That will make them highly employable to companies along the Space Coast, throughout Central Florida and beyond. It’s a huge step forward for our college.”

The new designation makes EFSC students eligible for a Defense Department cybersecurity scholarship program, which covers the cost of tuition, books and provides a stipend.

Enrollment in EFSC’s Cybersecurity program is strong. Associate in Science Degree students in corresponding areas of study can also seamlessly transition to the Bachelor track upon graduation.

An EFSC Cybersecurity Industry Advisory Board that includes companies such as Northrup Grumman and L3 Harris provides input to the college on the program.

Experts from EFSC also go to high schools and middle schools to talk with students about cybersecurity careers.

For more information on the Cybersecurity Center, including related Bachelor, Associate and Certificate programs, visit