The Charger Blog

Cybersecurity Professors Awarded Civilian Medal of Merit

Liberty Page '91 M.S. and Ibrahim Baggili, Ph.D., have been recognized for their tireless work to foster cybersecurity education as part of Project IRONCLAD, a National Security Agency- and Department of Defense-funded program that is providing cutting-edge training for the Connecticut National Guard.

September 24, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Liberty Page and Ibrahim Baggili pose with their Civilian Medal of Merit awards alongside service members.
Liberty Page '91 M.S. and Ibrahim Baggili, Ph.D., were awarded a Civilian Medal of Merit.

Liberty Page '91 M.S. has a long history of creating and implementing cybersecurity programs for her students at the University, as well as for high school students. As part of a cutting-edge cybersecurity training program this summer, she applied her experience and expertise to help create an innovative cybersecurity training opportunity for members of the Connecticut National Guard.

Prof. Page, along with Ibrahim “Abe” Baggili, Ph.D., founding director of the Connecticut Institute of Technology, spearheaded the development and execution of "cybersecurIty tRaining for the cOnNeCticut nationaL guArD" (Project IRONCLAD). They were both recently awarded a Civilian Medal of Merit by the adjutant general of the Connecticut National Guard in recognition of their work.

“Receiving the State of Connecticut Military Department's Civilian Medal of Merit for our work training the Connecticut National Guard in cybersecurity is the most deeply meaningful and appreciated award I have ever been given,” said Prof. Page, program coordinator for the University’s undergraduate program in cybersecurity and networks. “I am honored and humbled to have this recognition.”

Liberty Page shaking hands with a service member.
Liberty Page '91 M.S. is presented a Civilian Medal of Merit.
‘We are able to train the skills needed to remain ready’

The first two Project IRONCLAD training sessions were held at the University this past summer, offering trainees a variety of opportunities for hands-on learning. They took part in laboratory exercises at the University, learning from experts how to solve cases similar to what they might face in the real world. Training focused on cyber operations, including defensive and incidence- response operations.

For Dr. Baggili, an award-winning and internationally recognized expert in cybersecurity and digital forensics, receiving the Civilian Medal of Merit was especially meaningful.

“This award was only ever given to handful of people in the state,” he said. “It is a testament to our hard work and dedication toward securing Connecticut and developing partnerships across the state. We are very proud, extremely honored, and thankful for such a recognition. It is, by far, the coolest recognition I have ever received!”

The award is presented to individuals who have distinguished themselves by “exceptionally meritorious conduct that contributes significantly to the accomplishment of the armed forces' mission.” Professors Page and Baggili were invited to the Connecticut National Guard Headquarters in Hartford to be recognized by Major General Francis Evon, Adjutant General and Commander of the Connecticut National Guard.

“Gone are the days where wars are waged solely on the battlefield,” said Maj. Gen. Evon. “Defense in cyberspace is equally as important, both overseas and right here within our state borders. Thanks to our partnership with the University of New Haven’s cybersecurity program, we are able to train the skills needed to remain ready and proficient to support our states residents in times of a cyber crisis.”

Ibrahim Baggili shaking hands with a service member.
Ibrahim Baggili, Ph.D., is recognized for his dedication to cybersecurity education.
‘I am honored to have the opportunity to serve our state and nation’

The University’s Connecticut Institute of Technology received a grant for nearly $200,000 from the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense to support the training. Dr. Baggili, who served as principal investigator of Project IRONCLAD and oversaw the curriculum development, says the program is an important way for the University to give back. He looks forward to continuing to do just that through ongoing outreach and service.

“While this is a fantastic recognition, the real work starts now,” he said. “We hope to help Connecticut become the technology and security hub it deserves to become.”

That work will continue, in part, with Project IRONCLAD. The University’s grant proposal for 2022 IRONCLAD has been accepted for training Army and Air Force National Guard members from New England at Cyber Yankee, a training exercise. The University is already looking forward to welcoming the next cohort of members of the Connecticut National Guard to campus for training next year.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve our state and nation by helping the soldiers and servicemembers who give so much to all of us,” said Prof. Page. “I look forward to 2022 IRONCLAD with one cohort at Cyber Yankee and the second cohort on campus next summer.”