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Northwest Virtual Institute for Cybersecurity Education and Research CySER



Funded by the Department of Defense (DoD), the Northwest Virtual Institute for Cybersecurity Education and Research (CySER) is established to train the next generation of military and national defense-aligned civilian workforce in cybersecurity.  

CySER is a consortium of five institutions in the Northwest led by Washington State University (WSU). The other four partner institutions are: Montana State University (MSU), University of Idaho (UI), Columbia Basin College (CBC) and Central Washington University (CWU). The CySER program is specifically funded through the DOD Air Force Military Command’s Virtual Institutes for Cyber and Electromagnetic Spectrum Research and Employ (VICEROY) initiative. The VICEROY project is managed by the Griffiss Institute.

CySER directly responds to the VICEROY initiative by designing an innovative education and research program in cybersecurity for ROTC as well as DoD-aligned civilians at the undergraduate and graduate level, with primary emphasis on undergraduate education.  

While positioning itself for designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations (CAE-CO), WSU leads the CySER consortium by bringing together unique strengths in and diversity of populations served by each partner institution. UI has a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) status. CBC is a Hispanic Serving Institution with CAE2Y Cybersecurity program. MSU has several DOD supported cybersecurity projects, and CWU has strong AFROTC programs. WSU, UI and MSU each have vibrant ROTC programs embedded in their various degree offerings and will be strategically leveraged in the CySER effort. 

The VICEROY CySER Institute is led by faculty in WSU’s Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture (VCEA) and especially the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). CySER also involves faculty from the Department of Management, Information Systems, and Entrepreneurship (MISE) in the WSU Carson College of Business and the Department of Kinesiology and Educational Psychology in the College of Education.

Research Topics in CySER

At both the undergraduate and graduate level, research in CySER focuses on five topics: 

  • Cyber-Physical Systems 
  • AI and Machine Learning 
  • Networks and Information Security 
  • Software Security and Quality Assurance 
  • Cyber Education 

CySER Program Elements

Students participating in the CySER program will receive wide-ranging training that integrates cybersecurity research and education with professional skills in teamwork, communication, leadership, and lifelong learning. A core principle in CySER is training that organically merges theoretical knowledge with experiential learning.

Key CySER program elements include:

  • New cybersecurity courses and course modules
  • Senior design (capstone) projects focused on cybersecurity
  • Internships at DoD-based installations, national labs, and cybersecurity-related industry
  • Intensive summer workshop featuring hands-on learning, cybersecurity best practices, and pedagogical training
  • Seminars during academic semesters featuring research, current trends, and industry speakers
  • Research – realized via class projects, senior design projects, independent study projects, and graduate theses
  • Cybersecurity competitions
  • Community outreach, including to high school students and educators

Industry Partners

The following institutions have agreed to host CySER students for internships:

  • Naval Base Kitsap Keyport
  • Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL)
  • Idaho National Lab (INL)
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • Schweitzer Engineering Lab (SEL)
  • Mitre Corporation
  • Hoplite Solutions
  • National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)
  • Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
CySER Description
CySER, a Northwest consortium, will serve to train an ROTC and national defense-oriented civilian workforce at undergraduate and graduate levels combining cybersecurity technical and professional competencies of leadership, communication, teamwork and lifelong learning. It will provide research opportunities centered around 1) cyber-physical-systems; 2) AI and machine learning; and 3) socio-economic networks. Broad training will occur via courses and course modules, research projects, summer workshops, internships, and seminars, employing sound instructional design paradigms.