Cyber Center

Center for Cyber Initiatives and Awareness (CCIA)

Providing sophisticated cyber defense capabilities, research, education, and workforce development

Introduction, Mission, and Approach

South Carolina is poised to capitalize on the exploding cyber market and grow the cyber footprint to meet the technical challenges and opportunities the digital world presents. To keep pace with increasing cyber threats in South Carolina and in our country, USC Aiken operates the Center for Cyber Initiatives and Awareness (CCIA). The CCIA and our institution take an integrated approach that unites sophisticated cyber defense capabilities, research, education, and workforce development.

The mission of the CCIA is to bring together USC Aiken’s cyber curriculum and cyber initiatives to produce an educated cyber workforce capable of handling the cyber needs of this region, South Carolina, and the country. This is done through our offering of a distinctive cyber curriculum that is based on foundational principles of computer science and cybersecurity that also incorporates professional experience opportunities (e.g., internships, research, industry capstones) for our students so that they are “career ready” as they enter the workforce. The CCIA also strives to build cyber awareness in our region and across the state through educational programming geared to educate the public on cyber issues and to build excitement in K-12 students for potential cyber careers.

Our cyber model combines existing world-class talent to form a customized, economical solution:


USC Aiken’s CCIA, together with Aiken County Schools and Aiken Technical College, educates the next generation of workforce within a highly recognized STEM and CYBER training environment.


Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Army Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon work together within Aiken County with strong connections to SC workforce initiatives.


Internationally known advanced manufacturing technologies with unique capabilities and equipment connected to degree attainment and workforce development.

USC Aiken has the “power of proximity” and is already bringing together key partnerships to create a cybersecurity ecosystem in Aiken County and throughout South Carolina that leverages the missions of Fort Gordon (only 20 miles from USC Aiken), the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) (only 15 miles from USC Aiken), and other South Carolina entities.

For example:

  • USC Aiken’s degree in cybersecurity was designed with involvement from regional business, industry, government, and national laboratory personnel.
  • USC Aiken is now the first and only four-year partner institution with SANS Technology Institute (STI) in the world. Through our exclusive agreement with STI, the STI undergraduate certificate has been folded into our four-year cybersecurity degree as an option for students. 
  • Aiken Technical College and the Aiken County Public School System are critical educational partners to developing a continuous ladder of educational attainment in the cyber fields.
  • Aiken Scholars’ Academy, a public honors high school on the USC Aiken campus, educates top high school students with a CyberPatriot curriculum that introduces students to the cyber field.
  • The U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence (CCofE) was recently relocated to Fort Gordon and is working on a MOU partnership with USC Aiken and our students.
  • A $50 million Department of Energy Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative (AMC) research building is being built on USC Aiken campus that will focus on cybersecurity and other cutting-edge STEM technologies. This will create research opportunities and networking opportunities for our students.
  • The South Carolina National Guard is building a $30 million DreamPort cybersecurity center on the campus of USC Aiken. These professional officers will work with our students and our students will work on cybersecurity projects in this state-of-the-art cybersecurity center.
  • USC Aiken’s degree in cybersecurity has now been approved to be offered fully online through the University of South Carolina’s Palmetto College opening up the degree for students anywhere in the world.