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University, tech firm team up to offer cyber-forensics studies


San Antonio Business Journal (02/12/2005)

by Catherine Dominguez

Texas State University in San Marcos will collaborate with Fairfax, Va.-based ManTech International Corp. to develop curriculum focusing on computer forensics for the school's existing computer science department.

Texas State officials say, with guidance from ManTech, the school will build practical applications for the university's research that can be applied and used on a daily basis.

ManTech is a provider of innovative technologies and solutions for national security programs for the intelligence community, the Department of Defense and other federal government customers. Among its many focus areas, the company provides physical and cyber security services to protect U.S. embassies all over the world. ManTech, which is publicly traded on the Nasdaq stock market, has close to 6,000 employees.

ManTech has a presence in San Antonio with over 50 employees working at Brooks City-Base. Officials with the company have recently announced the company is in the process of relocating part of its computer forensics department to the Alamo City as well.

"ManTech is a very large company that focuses on many different areas," says Wilbon Davis, professor and chair of the computer science department at Texas State. "But the area we are most interested in is computer forensics. I am teaching the first digital forensics class this semester."

Computer or digital forensics is used to gather or investigate information from computers, such as recovering e-mail traffic as part of a criminal investigation, Davis says.

The university, Davis says, began its computer security program several years ago and now wants to expand into the computer forensics area. Because the technology is always evolving, working with a company that is top flight in the industry is key to building a successful program, he adds.

Gary Dorland, president of ManTech Security and Mission Assurance, adds that the collaboration will benefit not only his company but the industry as well.

"Our computer forensics unit is one of the most sophisticated and advanced technology groups in our marketplace," Dorland says. "Joining with a highly regarded university program will allow us to influence their computer security curriculum, which will hopefully produce more graduates with skills in this high-demand, advanced technology area."
Changing course

According to Davis, adding the program will not require additional funding or more faculty. The new classes will take the place of other classes that are being phased out because they are not being taught as often. Some of the new curriculum will be added to existing course work for classes that are currently offered at the school.

"In computer science, some courses become obsolete and course work changes," Davis says. "We are constantly revising our course work, especially at the graduate level."

Mark Root, executive director of corporate communications for ManTech, says by helping the university, ManTech will have the opportunity to help prepare students for careers in the industry. He adds there is a great demand for security professionals throughout the United States.

"It's a good opportunity for us because we can get in on the ground floor with a university," he says. "Our guys are excited about this and eager to get involved.

Kelly Broome, assistant executive director with the Defense Program Group at ManTech and a graduate of Texas State University, says the driving motive behind the collaboration with the school is to help make the company more competitive for government contracts. As a result, ManTech is providing its services free of charge.

"The government likes to see collaboration with academia," he says.

He adds that having access to a university that can provide research for new technologies and programs is also a benefit for the company.

Davis says the new classes should be available to the students in the fall.

"What's going to happen, I hope, is a very long-term relationship," he says. "ManTech has wonderful contacts that we are not likely to ever make; conversely, we have educational contacts they are not likely to make. The sharing of contacts is one of the biggest benefits."