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Merit Network’s Don Welch a Key Figure on Michigan’s Cyber Leadership Team

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Merit Network is proud to announce that its President and CEO, Don Welch, has played an important role on the State of Michigan’s Cyber Leadership Team. Welch participated in the Cyber Strategic Planning Task Force, a group of individuals from Michigan’s IT community who were selected to contribute to new State policy on cybersecurity.
Don Welch
On Friday, October 7, Welch joined Governor Snyder and a select group of panelists at the 2011 Michigan Cyber Summit to help present the new cybersecurity policy. The event was held at Eastern Michigan University’s Marriott Eagle Crest Hotel and Convention Center in Ypsilanti.

The Michigan Cyber Summit brought together experts to address a variety of cyber security issues affecting business, education, information technology, economic development, law enforcement and personal use.
Don Welch
Welch spoke to the value of cybersecurity curriculum in all levels of education.

“The biggest security vulnerabilities are not always hardware or software, but people using the system,” he said. “A work force that is better educated on threats and behaviors is more cybersecurity aware and will be a more productive workforce.”

“Security professionals are not the only professionals who should be concerned with cybersecurity,” he explained. “Engineers of all kinds need to have sufficient knowledge of cybersecurity to ensure that security is part of the design rather than added later.”

The Summit also served as the launch of the eighth annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month and hosted Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt and Michigan Congressmen John Dingell, Mike Rogers and Hansen Clarke.

Welch pointed out that selecting Michigan to launch National Cyber Security Awareness Month was fitting because of the state’s rich history in computer science and networking.

“Michigan is uniquely positioned to become the next leader in cybersecurity,” he said.

Merit Network with the support from the National Science Foundation and working with MCI and IBM led the NSFNET project, the direct precursor to the commercial Internet of today. While the University of Michigan started one of the world’s first computer science departments.

Welch also cited the fact that five institutions of higher education in Michigan are National Centers of Academic Excellence in IA (Information Assurance) Education and CAE-Research programs as designated by the National Security Administration (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS): Eastern Michigan University, Davenport University, Ferris State University, University of Detroit Mercy, and Walsh College.

Students attending these designated schools are eligible to apply for scholarships and grants through the Department of Defense Information Assurance Scholarship Program and the Federal Cyber Service Scholarship for Service Program.

For more information, please visit the Michigan Cyber Initiative web site.