UTEP Alumnus and Researcher Awarded Prestigious Army Service Award
Last Updated on April 01, 2021 at 12:00 PM
Originally published April 01, 2021
By Christina Rodriguez
Jaime C. Acosta, Ph.D., an alumnus and researcher at The University of Texas at El Paso, earned the Department of the Army Civilian Service Achievement Medal for his commitment to improving workforce diversity from October 2018 through December 2020.
The research scientist at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and designated ARL South site lead at UTEP, has been instrumental to the advancements made by the University and UTEP’s Department of Computer Science in the area of cybersecurity. Since joining the department in 2014, Acosta has contributed to research, student advancements and curriculum development through teaching and professional development activities.
Acosta assembled and worked closely with UTEP’s computer science department faculty, students and outside partners from government and industry to establish the Cyber Rapid Innovation Group. The unit provides a unified forum for professionals to bring problems to students and for students to gain relevant skills, experience, and connections that are essential to join and to succeed in the workforce.
The collaboration has produced more than 30 professional publications and software tools, upwards of 20 cybersecurity innovation exercises delivered to more than 1,500 participants, the joint development of several cybersecurity courses in the department, and five hackathons that have resulted in contributions to professional organizations. More than 40 students who worked with Acosta also have obtained jobs in the federal government and national laboratories.
Salamah Salamah, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of UTEP’s computer science department, said Acosta’s efforts contributed significantly to UTEP’s designation as one of only 21 National Security Agency Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations nationwide.
Additionally, Acosta played a major role that helped the department secure the prestigious Department of Homeland Security/National Science Foundation CyberCorps Scholarship for Service grant in 2016.
“Thanks to Dr. Acosta, our students have become extremely competitive in securing high-level jobs in government entities and are well-positioned to contribute to the advancement of the nation’s cybersecurity missions,” Salamah said. “We are extremely proud of Dr. Acosta’s achievements and equally thankful for all his work with our department and students.”
Acosta, who earned his doctorate in computer science from UTEP in 2009, said the University prepared him to succeed technically and as a future leader. He said he wanted to stay at his alma mater as a visiting researcher because of its people and unique capabilities, and because he wanted to work with UTEP to make significant contributions to the community and nation in the field of cybersecurity.
“My education at UTEP engraved in me the importance of not only developing novel and high-impact solutions, but also to be able to project accomplishments and to teach others how to do so,” Acosta said. “This award is a testament to the successes and impact achieved through collaborations with students, faculty, staff, and other cybersecurity experts in the field. The work is only beginning; this work will expand and provide more high-impact solutions in the coming years.”
The Army Chief of Staff approved the Department of the Army Civilian Service Achievement Medal in 1987. It is the fifth highest honor that the Department of the Army bestows on its civilian employees. It is comparable to the Army Achievement Medal awarded to active duty soldiers.