Douglas Alexander – First Director of Institute for Cybersecurity & Emerging Technologies at RIC – Rhode Island College News

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Douglas Alexander has been named the first director of the Institute for Cybersecurity & Emerging Technologies at Rhode Island College.

He brings more than three decades of experience in a variety of information technology and teaching roles. He is a certified information systems security professional and former director of community engagement and government relations at OSHEAN Inc. – an Internet, Cloud and security services provider.

As the new director, Alexander will lay the groundwork for an institute slated to become a national center of excellence in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning and other emerging technologies.

“Our top priority is workforce development,” he says, “particularly in the area of cybersecurity.”

“I’m honored to work with the institute’s distinguished chair, former U.S. Congressman Jim Langevin, and to join the existing leadership team to educate the next generation of talented students and working professionals who will tackle the most critical technological issues of today,” he says.

“Our top priority is workforce development, particularly in the areas of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. Our goal is to skill-up those professionals who are already working in IT [information technology] and to train new cybersecurity and AI workers who are entering the workforce from RIC,” Alexander says.

RIC is the first higher education institution in the state to offer a business-oriented B.S degree in cybersecurity. Along with its minor in cybersecurity, RIC students are prepared to enter a cybersecurity sector with up to 700,000 unfulfilled positions nationwide

To increase their skills and to increase the number of graduates from the program, the institute will purchase a cyber range that can be integrated into the curriculum. A cyber range is a collection of software for students to train, test and evaluate their cybersecurity skills and responses.

Cyber ranges have become the new model for cybersecurity education as an immersive hands-on experience.

The institute will also build a cyber command center in the School of Business. A cyber command center is a computer lab specifically designed for cybersecurity education and training and where cyberattack simulations take place.

Situated near the institute’s headquarters in Alger Hall, the command center will be equipped with an entire video wall, Alexander explains. There will be cameras, an AV system and tables with new computers equipped with Cloud-based cyber range software.

“The idea of a cyber range is similar to a firing range. In a firing range, you practice military exercises. In a cyber range you practice cybersecurity exercises.”

During a simulation, students will be given a cyberattack scenario and will be instructed to act as a pod – a team of technology professionals who work as a single unit to deal with the attack. Even the lighting in the room will turn red to indicate an attack, creating an atmosphere of urgency.

“The idea of a cyber range is similar to a firing range,” Alexander says. “In a firing range, you practice military exercises. In a cyber range you practice cybersecurity exercises.”

Originally, cyber ranges were used by military and government agencies to simulate real-world cyberattacks, but as cyberthreats have become a widespread threat, they’re being used by colleges, universities and businesses. They have become the new model for cybersecurity education as an immersive hands-on experience.

Cyber Command Center

Cyber command center

To skill-up IT professionals who are already working in the field, the institute will open its command center to local businesses, government agencies and other organizations who can book the center and use it for their own exercises, he says. Other higher ed institutions will be able to lease range licenses for use in their programs. Plans are also being made to offer cybersecurity trainings at community centers around the state for those looking for a career change.

Key investments have been made by R.I. Gov. Daniel McKee. During the governor’s 2024 State of the State Address, he announced a proposed cybersecurity bond on the ballot this fall to secure Rhode Island’s place as a national leader in cybersecurity education and workforce development.

“The bond will be for approximately $50 million to renovate Rhode Island College’s Whipple Hall,” Alexander says, “which would become the new headquarters for the institute, the site of two cyber command centers, an AI lab and a security operations center. My goal is to ensure that the institute is a resource for anyone interested in the cybersecurity and artificial intelligence industries.”

For more information on the Institute for Cybersecurity & Emerging Technologies, visit their website. You can also find them on LinkedIn.

For more information on RIC cybersecurity programs, visit Cybersecurity B.S. and Minor or contact Associate Professor and Chair Suzanne Mello-Stark at [email protected].

Also see:
WANTED: More Than Half a Million Graduates in Cybersecurity
Brand New B.S. Degree in Cybersecurity
U.S. Gov’t. Offering Tuition-Free Graduate Degree in Cybersecurity
With Launch of New Institute, RIC is Poised to Become Leader in Cybersecurity

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