A Catalyst classroom that has 40 computers and a dedicated network that serves as a training ground for researching and battling hackers, malware and other malicious threats to our security has a new name.
The Steiner Family Cyber Security Lab was christened on Dec. 7 to honor longtime faculty member Stu Steiner, and his wife, Shirlee, for their generosity and commitment to increasing diversity within Eastern’s nationally recognized Cybersecurity Program.
Stu and Shirlee recently gave a $20,000 gift through pledges and money already donated to establish the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Cybersecurity Endowment. The scholarship fund supports diversity at a time when there is a nationwide shortage of cybersecurity experts and a profound shortfall of women and minorities in the profession.
“We really have to focus on dual approaches to get these underrepresented groups’ voices heard,” says Steiner, assistant professor of computer science and respected cybersecurity expert.
At the ceremony, David Bowman, dean of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (CSTEM), described Steiner as a “force of nature” who is passionate about Eastern and its students. Steiner “walks the walk” and provides support where it matters, Bowman told the crowd.
Steiner is known for engaging students through cyber competitions and traveling with teams of students to compete on a national level. Not surprisingly, with an instructor who is as passionate about cybersecurity as Steiner, Eastern students typically do well. (Click here to read a column Steiner wrote for the Seattle Times.)
His expertise and commitment to the program was crucial to Eastern earning a federal designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. (Check out this Journal of Business story.)
In addition to being recognized for his brilliance as a computer scientist and commitment to students, Steiner got a shout out for his philanthropy. During his 20 years as a full-time instructor at Eastern, Steiner created three additional scholarship funds and provided generous gifts and fundraising support until those funds reached endowment.
In conversations throughout the room, attendees shared stories of Steiner’s impact. Gabe Anderson, a 22-year-old Computer Science major from Yakima, recalled transferring to Eastern after struggling with impersonal instruction at a larger university. He credits Steiner with helping him feel connected.
“By my second day here, Stu had basically adopted me. He was very friendly and helped me get situated in the right classes. He’s a huge reason why I’ve enjoyed my experience at Eastern,” says Anderson, who now relies on Steiner as his capstone project advisor.
Jackie Coomes, associated dean of CSTEM, explained that nationwide fewer than 20 percent of computer science and engineering professionals and students are women. Steiner, she says, encourages, challenges and mentors young women – with a goal of reversing that trend.
“He has made a difference,” Coomes says.