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University of Nebraska-Omaha new home of National Counterterrorism Center

Posted at 6:46 PM, Jul 10, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A new academic research hub on the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s campus will study, track and look at ways to prevent terrorist attacks, both foreign and domestic.

The National Counterterrorism, Innovation, Technology and Education Center (NCITE) will coordinate the work of 18 universities, 50-plus researchers and ten projects centered around various terrorism questions.

“It’s a really complex problem, terrorism, and to have the brain trust of these students solving it is really important for the U.S. government,” said Dr. Gina Ligon, NCITE’s director.

The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through a $36.5-million federal grant. The grant is the largest in the University of Nebraska system’s history.

The center will also work hand-in-hand with United States Strategic Command, which is located at Offutt Air Force Base.

“We are supposed to be applied partners for the government so having Strat Comm here and all of the brain power that comes with it is incredibly important for our center,” Ligon said. “Because of this national security ecosystem we have right here in Omaha, Strat Comm is a huge part of that, the investment of the new building at Offutt was important. Honestly all of the biocontainment work that we’re doing at the Med Center, it all told this story that Omaha is part of the national security infrastructure.”

“This is another venue for us to make an impact in the local economy and the country,” said Dr. Doug Derrick, an associate professor for information technology innovation at UNO.

He said the center is a major step in bringing information technology innovation jobs to the area.

“It’s training them in information technology, how to innovate and how to make a real impact for the nation and community,” he said.

Nebraska Congressman Don Bacon is a supporter of NCITE. In a statement Bacon said “Defending our homeland from both foreign and domestic terrorism requires innovative prevention, concrete research, and evidence-based solutions, I have long supported UNO’s NCITE center and its mission, and I commend Dr. Gina Ligon for her diligent work and strategic capabilities, making this center a national and global leader in counter-terrorism.”

The grant will last for ten years. NCITE will be housed on the second floor at Mammel Hall on UNO’s Scott Campus in the building’s new $17-million wing.

UNO will have 14 graduate students on full scholarships at the center along with 14 student workers. The school is looking at adding coursework from an undergraduate certificate level to a doctoral program.

Watch reporter Phil Bergman’s story in the above video.