Signature Seminar: Taking Advantage of Our Location in the Nation's Capital
GW requires all cybersecurity scholarship students to complete Computer Science 6534, Cybersecurity and Governance, for all four semesters of their scholarship programs. CSci 6534 is GW's distinctive weekly course that underlies its success in educating and placing Cyber Corps graduates in federal agencies. Students' participation in this course begins the process of building working relationships that become a very important success factor in their future careers. It is the unifying and reinforcing experience that prepares students with the knowledge, perspective, and expertise to perform competently in their future government positions, repay the federal government its hefty investments in their education, and serve their country.
The course brings cybersecurity students together and guides them through a curriculum designed to give them a thorough understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Government in cyber security. It offers an overview of the technical aspects of cyber security: familiarity with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) and with currently proposed cyber legislation. Over the two-year period, the course essentially grooms GW's CyberCorps students to succeed by developing their technical, analytical, managerial, presentation, and writing skills with regard to cybersecurity issues. It provides a baseline of common knowledge of relevant federal policies and mandates and an informed picture of federal government roles, responsibilities, and processes. It reviews basics of U.S. Constitution and law and steeps students in the cybersecurity elements necessary to planning federal computer systems within a framework that is cognizant of privacy, cost, risk, civil liberties, and public acceptance.
The students study current federal civilian and Defense Department policy and compliance programs by examining the FISMA process and the related set of security controls. They engage in the entire Security Certification and Accreditation, audit, and System Security Plan processes. The course readies students to contribute to a government cybersecurity environment on their first day in the federal workforce.
Almost every week, a government official or industry expert speaks, reinforcing concepts, sharing insights, and meeting informally with scholarship students. The field is fast moving and in response, we frequently update Seminar topics, exam questions and answers in technology, law, and government policy.
Finally, the course provides students valuable informal networking and contacts. Personal interactions with speakers, program alumni, and instructors have led to internships and jobs. Students and graduates establish and rely on these personal and professional friendships and contacts to serve as sounding boards for work-related advice and to provide assistance in their searches for their next positions.
Prior Seminar Speakers
- Peter Caggiano, Law Enforcement/Forensics; FDIC OIG
- Dr. Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google
- Cameron Dixon, DHS Vulnerability Disclosure Policy
- Cem Hatipoglu, Cybersecurity and Safety, Director, Vehicle Crash Avoidance and Electronic Controls Research, NHTSA
- General Michael Hayden, former director, National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency
- Steven Hernandez, Role of CISO
- Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), co-chair, Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus
- Mr. Kevin Mandia, CEO of Mandiant (now Fireeye)
- Dr. Ron Ross, Fellow, National Institute of Standards and Technology
- Dr. Phyllis Schneck, Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications, Department of Homeland Security
- Michael Specter, Voting Security
- Cheryl Warner, Cyber Insurance
Students visit various conferences that match their security interests. For example, we have had CyberCorps students travel to Crypto, the annual International Cryptography Conference, and to the RSA Conference. GW has also had a team of master's and undergraduate students compete at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Competition of the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.
Using Washington as a Classroom
Students can take advantage of our Washington location to visit congressional hearings and other events where they see cybersecurity issues debated and policy formulated. Often, professors asked to speak at these events invite the students along. Typical conferences attended by many students include BlackHat, FOSE, the State of the Net Conference, and recent events sponsored by the WashingtonPostLive and the Future of Privacy Forum. Many have also taken a field trip to the National Cryptologic Museum adjacent to the headquarters of the National Security Agency in nearby Fort Meade, Maryland.