Connecticut Institute of Technology

There’s something missing between New York and Massachusetts: a technology hub, an institute of technology or a polytechnic, with its intense focus on applied learning and research. The University of New Haven aims to remedy that situation and quickly. This fall, the university is establishing the Connecticut Institute of Technology (CIT), thus becoming the destination university for technology education and research in the northeast region between the crowded urban centers of the Empire State and Bay State.

If ever a set of disciplines needed an institute …

The institute will reside within the University’s Tagliatela College of Engineering and will initially encompass the disciplines of cybersecurity and networks, computer science, data science, AI — a subset of data science, and electrical and computer engineering. All are taught at the undergraduate level, graduate level, or both at the university. Cybersecurity, data science/AI, and computer science are high-demand, smoking-hot disciplines that are creating a ton of international buzz. The wide adoption of internet-enabled devices ("Internet-of-Things" or IoT) and sensors that are emerging from electrical and computer engineering are also permeating all aspects of social life. The creation of an institute that coalesces these synergistic disciplines and elevates their status even higher will further ramp up their attractiveness to students and make the successes achieved "in-house" highly visible.

Over the last few years, the cybersecurity and networks program at the university has gained enormous national visibility under the leadership of Ibrahim (Abe) Bagilli, associate professor of computer science and director of the institute. In 2019, the National Security Agency recognized the university as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations. Only 21 universities in the country can currently claim the designation. The university also scored a $4 million Scholarship for Service grant from the National Science Foundation to help prepare cybersecurity professionals for federal, state, and tribal government agencies.

Said Bagilli, "With Connecticut Tech (or CIT) we plant a proud flag, one that signals we will be the tech and education hub for the state of Connecticut. We are going to play a pivotal role in stimulating the state’s economy, and, beyond that, generating the highest quality of students and research in the domains of cybersecurity, computing, and AI.

"While Connecticut has been well known in academia as a liberal arts hub, we will be catalyzing a new breed of education in the state, a breed that fosters technology-enabled innovation and, as always, produces graduates in areas that are in high-demand."

Added Ron Harichandran, dean of the Tagliatela College of Engineering, who will be overseeing the institute, "We believe that the University of New Haven has the leading cybersecurity program in the state of Connecticut. Through the launch of our M.S. in Data Science program in San Francisco in 2015, now on the main campus in West Haven, we are rapidly developing expertise in data science and AI. Electrical and computer engineering have been long standing disciplines in the college. Launching the Connecticut Institute of Technology will unite the strengths within the Tagliatela College of Engineering and serve as a technology focal point at the university."

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A nexus for collaboration with non-engineering disciplines

The institute will foster collaboration and interdisciplinary research across all colleges and schools at the university, effectively incorporating cybersecurity, computing, data science, AI, IoT, and sensors into non-engineering curricula. Inclusion of these technologies into programs in colleges of business, criminal justice and forensic sciences, health sciences, and arts and sciences is essential today, when issues of cybersecurity and data breaches are impacting multiple industries and businesses. Whether it’s bank transactions, stock trades, manufacturing data, medical records, criminal records, forensic evidence, scientific data, or retail transactions, it all needs to be secure.

In addition, data science creates new ways of analyzing the vast mountains of data that overwhelm companies, helping them to make sense of it all and aiding management in decision-making. The computer scientists who develop secure software and algorithms are virtually riding to the rescue of end-users in business, industry, and government. IoT and sensors developed by engineers are in our homes, our cars, our health care facilities, and our businesses.

The CIT also could partner with others at the university to develop algorithms and software related to their work. For example, the Center for Analytics in the university’s Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences contends with huge amounts of data, and the CIT could develop algorithms and software to automate its processing. Or, the CIT could help build secure storage and retrieval systems that protect patient records from being hacked, which might be of interest to faculty in the School of Health Sciences.

And, in the area of what has changed life as we knew it since early March, the CIT could even develop algorithms to model and project the spread of pandemics such as COVID-19. Meanwhile, IoT devices and sensors can monitor contact tracing during epidemics, enable assistive technologies for patients, and perform other death-defying feats.

Referring to the timing of the institute’s launch in this challenging new normal, University of New Haven president Steven H. Kaplan said, "History is being made as we speak. All around the country, in every state, in every organization, there will be a mighty effort to restore the economy, post-COVID. The fact that, prior to the pandemic, the university was already at a turning point in history — preparing students to succeed in a tech age, as we once prepared them to succeed in a manufacturing economy — means we are living through an incredible and unique confluence of events.

"I can think of no better time for us to launch the Connecticut Institute of Technology — for the university’s future, for our students’ future, and in terms of super-charging the state and regional economy. I’m enormously optimistic as well as excited and proud to be part of this effort."

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