MU analysis shines in cybersecurity alliance

Lauren Abbott, Opinion editor

On Feb. 28, Mercyhurst announced that it will be joining Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University to form the North Coast Cyber Research and Training Alliance. All three schools have nationally recognized programs in the field of cybersecurity and will be working together to develop cybersecurity research and training programs.

“The idea is to pull together the resources, the brain trust, the reputation of the three institutions, so that we can partner and do things together with corporate companies in the region, for federal grants, and it’s going to expose Mercyhurst students to opportunities that we couldn’t go after just by ourselves,” said Caleb Pifer, vice president for External Relations at Mercyhurst.

Each school in the Alliance has a unique strength within the cybersecurity realm.

Mercyhurst University’s Ridge College of Intelligence Studies & Applied Sciences specializes in cyber intelligence threat analysis and analytics.
Case School of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University specializes in cyber engineering and hardware solutions.
The Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law focuses on cyber regulatory and policy analysis.

Each program at the three universities focuses on a different aspect of the cybersecurity field, and the Alliance allows the schools to bring those three aspects together to engage in research and training opportunities.

As Brian Ray, a professor of Law at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and co-director of the Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection, explains, “the Alliance establishes a formal relationship and structured framework for each institution to draw on the unique capabilities of the others for research, community and industry engagement as well as education and training opportunities.”

This Alliance will also provide students with internship opportunities and the ability to share opportunities that already exist on each campus for students to learn more about cybersecurity.
“The Alliance plans to share internship opportunities in cybersecurity and related disciplines with students on all three campuses, and we are working on developing other shared education and training programs,” Ray said.

Currently, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law waives the registration fee for Case Western and Mercyhurst University students interested in attending their annual Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection Conference. Mercyhurst and Cleveland State also have a 3+3 agreement that allows qualified students to enroll in Cleveland State’s JD program in their senior year at Mercyhurst.
This will not only have a positive effect on Mercyhurst, but also on the greater Erie community.

“There are ripple effects both for Mercyhurst and for Erie, and I think we’re going to see that in the innovation district that we’ve been spearheading because it strengthens our reputation in this field even more than it already is,” Pifer said.

For Mercyhurst, the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences will oversee the Alliance.

“We have a synergy that we’re able to really have faculty that are interested in researching all the different aspects,” Duncan McGill, dean of the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences, said.

This is the third cyber-related project Mercyhurst has debuted this year. Along with the new Alliance, Mercyhurst is currently building a new cybersecurity lab funded by Cleveland-based technology company MCPC and launching two new cyber-related Master programs in Cyber Security and Cyber Risk Management.