by Leah Jackson

Northwestern State University has been accepted into the United States Cyber Command Academic Engagement Network (AEN).  The goal of AEN is to foster relationships between cutting edge academic institutions and the entire U.S. Cyber commend enterprise, which includes  the USCYBERCOM Headquarters, Cyber National Mission Force, Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Networks, Air Force Cyber Command (AFCYBER), Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER), Coast Guard Cyber Command (CGCYBER), Fleet Cyber Command (Fleet Cyber), Marine Forces Cyber Command (MARFORCYBER) and their associated Reserve Cyber forces.  

“This a great opportunity for our students, as it will connect them to a wealth of resources as well as provide speakers for our classes,” said Dr. Eddie Horton, associate professor of computer information systems.

As a collaborative network, the AEN aims focus on engaging the future workforce, increasing cyber applied research and innovation, expanding cyber-focused analytic partnerships and enriching the strategic dialogue on cyber.

“One of the things I’m most excited about is it will give our students access to many of the cyber-command related job postings,” Horton said. “Our program includes the ‘big 3’ certs (A+, Net+ and Security+), the entry requirements for many of those.  Once it’s all up and going our students can go to the AEN and look at job postings for both those that do and do not require a security clearance. Long term, that and having speakers come talk about what they actually do on a day to day basis is going to be the gold for us.”

“I believe acceptance into the Academic Engagement Network is another sign of how the Northwestern School of Business and the computer information systems program are seeking to ensure our curriculum is meeting today’s workforce demands,” said Dr. Curtis Penrod, director of the School of Business. “We strive to include certifications that are workforce relevant including CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, and CompTIA Security+ among others.”

By engaging with this network, NSU’s CIS students will benefit through exposure to job postings in the cyber-command field and through connections made through the AEN, he added. 

“Two of our primary goals are to make sure we are teaching the skills that students need in the workforce and that we are then assisting them with connecting to job opportunities. The Academic Engagement Network helps us accomplish those goals,” Penrod said.

Information on NSU’s computer information systems program is available at

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