The U.S Navy will partner with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to take advantage of the school’s Information Technology and Web Science program this fall.
The program will prepare a select group of Navy officers with skills they’ll need for military cyberspace operations.
The three-year agreement will allow for five to 10 officers per year to enroll in a new information dominance concentration created specifically for the Navy within the master of science degree program in information technology.
The new concentration is also open to students at RPI, specifically IT professionals and data scientists interested in enhancing their knowledge of how to use pervasive information in situational awareness, operations scenarios and decision-making, according to a press release. It was designed to prepare officers for careers designing, building, and managing secure information systems and networks, which are essential for the Navy in an increasingly information-rich environment, according to Peter Fox, director of the Information Technology and Web Science program.
“When you’re deluged with a large amount of heterogeneous information, you’re presented with challenges that you don’t have when you have sparse amounts of information,” Fox said in the statement.
The concentration includes advanced study in encryption and network security, formal models, secure coding techniques, policies and ethics for access control in databases and application systems, and other related information assurance and transparency topics.
The coursework provides comprehensive coverage of issues and solutions for using high-assurance systems in tactical decision-making, according to the release. One example is the use of social networking data during a threatening situation in a crowded area.
“Some of the data will have [geographic] location, some will not; some of the information is good quality, and some isn’t; some of the tweets come from within the area, and some won’t. How do you take diverse information sources that have different levels of quality and uncertainty and combine them together to have a capability to form analysis, let alone make a decision? The way you view it, assemble it, think about it, is different,” Fox said.
Laurie Leshin, dean of the School of Science at RPI said the partnership is an exciting one as the field of information dominance begins to emerge.
“Understanding large amounts of information is critical to our future national security, and it is an honor to be involved in training Navy officers in how to work in the world of big data and IT. This is a great recognition for Rensselaer’s ITWS program and its unique interdisciplinary approach to training IT professionals,” Leshin said in the statement.
“This partnership with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute provides an excellent opportunity for members of our Information Dominance Corps to advance their education by studying at one of the country’s premier technical educational institutions,” U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Kendall L. Card, deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance, said in the statement.
The Information Technology and Web Science program, which combines mastery of Information Age technologies with a variety of academic disciplines, was formed as a graduate degree program in the late 1990s and offered the nation’s first undergraduate degree in Web science in 2010. Students in the program learn about the physical science underlying the Web and the social science of its impact, as well as the skills to run large-scale information systems, develop Web applications and deal with the social and policy implications of IT and Web deployments.
Fox said the RPI program is well-suited to meeting the Navy’s goals.
“The Navy has quickly realized that it needs to provide an intensive further education for key individuals who are being called upon to assess, integrate and make decisions based on a diversity and volume of digital information sources,” he said. “This was a good match with our program, which has a core set of classes that feature both the networking and the data underpinnings that the Navy’s program requires.”
The first group of Navy officers to enroll in the program will arrive on campus this month.