Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


University of Lake Wobegon?

Spaf has an excellent post up about Purdue’s decision to no longer be an NSA Center of Academic Excellence [link to no longer works]. He makes a number of thought-provoking points, among them that “excellence” loses its meaning if the bar is set too low, and that being an academic center and having a training (as opposed to educating) curriculum is a bit awkward. (These are my summaries of his views, obviously).
Spaf’s been doing top-caliber infosec work since many of us were wearing short pants and riding tricycles. His thoughts on this topic are well worth considering.

5 comments on "University of Lake Wobegon?"

  • tim says:

    “excellence” has also been cropping up in corporations as part of the names of various teams for years. For example its no longer the “firewall support group”. Its now the “firewall center of excellence” filled with the same average people as before. The term is meaningless.

  • Rich says:

    That’s a great read, though I wonder why Spaf felt compelled to explain the reasoning? I’m a grad student myself (MS in CS at Stevens) and I just found out 10 minutes ago we are a NSA CAE. I never knew it before, never seen any literature on it, never had a professor mention it.
    Looking at some of the other schools that are certified, like Capella, it doesn’t impress me to be in that league. Like Spaf mentioned, the school’s name and reputation will carry the degree.

  • Alex says:

    While there are a great deal of CAE’s in the US there are a lot more colleges that teach that material. Per capita the number of CAE’s to Universities is low enough to have it mean something on a door opener I hope and believe. I know my fellow students have a bit of pride knowing that they were accepted into a program that has regular visits from the 3 letter orgs and it gives us a bit of a leg up on getting jobs after finishing our IA program. So while I understand what the author is speaking to in reference to being too many roses in the bush, I do not agree that it is a pointless endeavor.

  • Rich says:

    Alex, where did you hear about “regular visits from the 3 letter” agencies? Here are the requirements for becoming a CAE:

  • Visited by a 3 letter org says:

    Gosh, I wasn’t proud at all when a three letter org left a note in my luggage, telling me they’d rummaged it.

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