ALBANY, N.Y. — The still-unfolding terror plot in Europe is bringing renewed focus to a first-of-its-kind program at the University at Albany.
In 2016, the university will open a new College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity. The aim of the college is two-fold: students will learn about fighting terror with intelligence and responding to disasters, while faculty will have new resources to research worldwide terror networks and analyze the ways nations respond to natural disasters.
"We expect to become the go-to place — not only in the country, but in the world," said UAlbany President Robert Jones.
Current UAlbany faculty members, like Victor Asal and Karl Rethemeyer, already laid the groundwork for UAlbany's new college years ago. For several years, Asal and Rethemeyer have been conducting extensive research on worldwide terror organizations, creating a new database called the Big Allied and Dangerous data set. It maps worldwide terror groups based on size, religious faith, allies and geography. Experts can then use the database to determine what sorts of attacks a specific terror group is capable of carrying out.
In the new college, Asal and Rethemeyer hope to expand their data research to include statistics on cybersecurity threats and worldwide preparation for man-made and natural disasters.
"That is not something that you'd find at other universities," Rethemeyer said Wednesday, "and I think it can be the hallmark of what we do here."
Jones estimates that eventually, the new college will help fill some of the 300,000 homeland security jobs that he believes the market can sustain.