ESL commits $3M to name cybersecurity institute

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ESL Federal Credit Union’s $3 million commitment has resulted in a new name for Rochester Institute of Technology’s cybersecurity institute.

The two organizations jointly announced an exclusive naming rights partnership for the ESL Global Cybersecurity Institute at RIT today. It is the largest naming rights commitment that ESL has secured, officials say.

“As Greater Rochester becomes a hub for careers in these sectors, ESL believes in supporting the institutions and programs that are educating and creating the next generation of professionals and leaders,” says Faheem Masood, president and CEO of ESL

ESL GCI launched in 2020–offering students, researchers and others access to state-of-the-art computer labs, teaching spaces, and a conference center. 

“The ESL/RIT partnership empowers us to do the hard work that will improve business practices and confront criminal cyber activity that upends the way of life for people and businesses here, across the nation, and around the world,” says RIT President David Munson. “Cyber and information security is a mission-critical challenge facing business and society as a whole. Together, the ESL Global Cybersecurity Institute at RIT will be the national leader in cybersecurity education, training, and research.”

ESL GCI also trains and educates cybersecurity professionals through its Cybersecurity Bootcamp. Among the first supporters of this effort, ESL created scholarships for participants. In addition to developing new technologies in the security and safety realm, ESL GCI has expanded computing security degree programs.  The 52,000 square-foot building that houses the institute adjoins the university’s computing college.

Ersin Uzun, the Katherine Johnson endowed executive director of ESL GCI, believes the partnership with ESL will help accelerate research, development and training activities.

Scores of industry reports have outlined the importance of cybersecurity and the need to build knowledge of possible attacks. Some 2.7 million information security jobs are unfilled worldwide, a recent (ISC)2 Cybersecurity Workforce Study found.

ESL GCI aims to fill that need. It has already attracted industry attention. A year ago, a collaborative effort with IBM created one of the first spaces to offer immersive cybersecurity simulations. The technology giant made an in-kind donation of more than $3.3 million to RIT. The institute’s Cyber Range and Training Center is a virtual and physical lab that enables simulation of network cyberattacks and problem-solving scenarios. With immersive experiences, the range helps prepare professionals to respond more effectively to real world cyberattacks.

“We work to help our community thrive and prosper, and this includes partnering with institutions like RIT because the university is a national leader in the information technology and cybersecurity space,” Masood says. “All of Greater Rochester benefits from RIT’s prominent and acclaimed cybersecurity program.”

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name.

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