WMU partners with Merit to offer cybersecurity training, certification

KALAMAZOO — Western Michigan University is expanding educational opportunities in cybersecurity under a new collaboration with Ann Arbor-based Merit Network Inc., a nonprofit organization providing high-performance computer networking and related services to educational, government, health care, and nonprofit organization.

Under the collaboration, WMU will offer noncredit, online professional development courses in cybersecurity training. Registration for the eight-week course is now open. The first courses start Oct. 22.

The partnership draws on faculty expertise in WMU’s Haworth College of Business and College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, as well as the Michigan Cyber Range, a virtual network environment developed by Merit Network Inc. to facilitate safe cybersecurity training.

Alan Rea and Jason Johnson, faculty in cybersecurity, will lead the courses, which combine online learning modules with lab-based experiential learning. Using the Michigan Cyber Range Secure Sandbox, students can practice their skills on real threats without putting their own personal or business network at risk.

The Michigan Cyber Range prepares cybersecurity professionals to detect, prevent and mitigate cyberattacks in a real-world setting. Like a test track or a firing range, the cyber range enables individuals and organizations to conduct “live fire” exercises — simulations that test the detection and reaction skills of participants in a variety of situations.

“We take the already exceptional Merit materials and practical labs and infuse them with additional academic and professional components to provide students with a multilayered learning experience,” said Rea, a professor of business information systems who has been teaching and researching information security for more than 20 years. “These courses are more than just memorization to pass an exam; we make sure students understand why they should approach various information security challenges.”

The cybersecurity courses offered by WMU are open to anyone in the field of information security and cybersecurity throughout Michigan and beyond. Professionals interested in the cybersecurity courses can learn more and register online at wmich.edu/professional/cyber.

“WMU is raising the bar in providing cybersecurity education to a broader section of the state,” said Joe Adams, vice president for research and cybersecurity for Merit Network. “Having the courses online while still providing a personal connection to faculty experts allows for a flexible-yet-consistent level of training.”

The courses prepare cybersecurity professionals for certification exams in some of the most in-demand credentials in the cybersecurity industry, including:
* CISSO – Certified Information Systems Security Officer
* CDFE – Certified Digital Forensics Examiner
* CPEH – Certified Professional Ethical Hacker
* CPTE – Certified Penetration Testing Engineer

WMU is the first Merit Network Inc. partner to offer the professional development courses entirely online in eight-week sessions. Additional courses will begin January 2019 with new sessions starting six times throughout the calendar year.

“Dr. Alan Rea and Jason Johnson are exceptional matches for Michigan Cyber Range technology resources,” says Andrew Holmes, executive director of technology for WMU Extended University Programs. “They showcase the rich expertise and talent within the Haworth College of Business and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and are the perfect complement to the great hands-on training provided by the Michigan Cyber Range.”

Rea was recently recognized by Red Hat, an open source software company, for the integration of open source technology in his curriculum.

Johnson, a faculty specialist in the engineering college, is a computer science lecturer and holds multiple certifications in cybersecurity. He has experience in corporate network and system administration and security.

Rea and Johnson, co-directors of information security programs offered collaboratively through Extended University Programs, the business college and engineering college, teach courses for both the online Master of Science and online Graduate Certificate in Information Security.

WMU has offered professional development opportunities for more than 30 years. Using the extensive expertise of WMU faculty, the University can offer test preparation, community programs, customized courses for Continuing Education Units and State Continuing Education Clock Hours, and personalized programming for a variety of professional needs. Learn more at wmich.edu/professional.

WMU Extended University Programs delivers higher education and professional development opportunities beyond Kalamazoo through courses and programs offered online and at regional locations across Michigan and in Florida. EUP is committed to connecting learners, employers and communities with innovative technology and integrative research to facilitate talent development and enhance lifelong learning. Learn more at wmich.edu/extended.

Merit Network was established in 1966 by the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University to link the universities’ mainframe computers. By the 1970s it had expanded into research and education in networking and associated services. Merit provides high-performance networking and IT services to Michigan’s public universities, K-12 education, libraries, state government, health care institutions, and other non-profit organizations.

The Michigan Cyber Range is hosted and facilitated by Merit Network in partnership with the state of Michigan and with the sponsorship of DTE Energy. A full training schedule may be found at the Merit Michigan Cyber Range website: merit.edu/cyberrange.

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