Spokane Falls Community College

AAS Degree with CAE-CD Designation

May 29, 2024

The CAE-CD Designation

In Washington state, ten colleges and universities have earned the CAE-CD designation. These schools have met the rigorous standards set forth by the sponsors of the program. These include the FBI, CISA, NIST, NSF and more.  

The acronym CAE-CD stands for Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. This designation is granted to institutions that commit to producing cybersecurity professionals that will work to protect national information infrastructure in the public and private sectors. 

By choosing a CAE-CD program of study, students know they’ve selected a high-quality course. These degrees give them an advantage in the job hunt. 

Institutions that seek the CAE-CD designation receive coaching and mentoring along the way. There are checklists, workshops, and even videos. Earning and maintaining the designation increases a college’s power to enroll more students and to apply for more grant funding. 

One College's Experience

To hear the experience of one college, we asked Sarah Martin, PhD, the Dean of Computing, Math and Science, at Spokane Falls Community College. The program of study that earned the CAE-CD designation is the AAS in Information Technology. Read this program's list of classes to see the heavy emphasis on cybersecurity.

Here is a recap of our conversation. 


How hard was it to achieve the CAE-CD, and which track has earned that designation? 


“The workload was challenging but the overall experience resulted in productive conversations among faculty members and helped us refine how we discuss our program. At SFCC, we have course learning and program learning outcomes, so the alignment to CAE standards added another layer of alignment for us that yielded fruitful conversations on curriculum and classroom activities. It did result in us restructuring a few classes and updating prerequisites for some classes. Overall, it was a positive experience.”  

“The approved program of study is: Associate of Applied Science - Information Technology (with a Cyber focus). This degree is designed for students interested in areas such as systems security analysis, countermeasures, cloud-based computing and systems, and platforms and network technologies.” 


What value does this bring to students and the employers who hire them? 


This designation adds value to our program and school. It gives students more leverage in securing employment. Employers recognize the knowledge and skill sets are above average. It also conveys to the students that their classroom work is connected to the larger community of cyber - it is not an isolated program. For example, our faculty are highly engaged in their own professional development through their CAE connections and are consistently updating coursework to meet the changing needs of cyber. 


What specific skills can your graduates talk about in a job interview? 


Problem solving, threat hunting, securing networks, making security recommendations, scripting, securing cloud resources, technical writing, and more. 


Tell us a story about one specific graduate who has launched a successful career. 


An Army veteran graduate secured employment as a SOC Analyst at a local Cybersecurity provider. In follow-up conversations, this student notes that their success is connected to their experience at SFCC. Particularly, the challenge set forth by faculty to apply the knowledge being learned and the internship opportunities. 



This summer, high school students can explore cybersecurity as a possible career path. The GenCyber day camp is free at the SFCC campus. It runs from July 15 to 19, from 9AM to 4:30PM with lunch and snacks provided. Registration, at this point, is full, but new applicants are put onto a wait list. 


Motherboard shown with flashing lights and fiber optic cables artistically spread above it.
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