EAST STROUDSBURG — Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., on Wednesday made his first visit to the Poconos as a sitting senator to announce that he is pushing to get East Stroudsburg University $250,000 for its cyber crime-busting programs.
The money for ESU — the first requested by Casey alone for a public university — is not yet a sure thing.
The measure granting the money was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, but still needs to be ratified by the full Senate, the House-Senate conference committee and approved by the president before reaching ESU.
"You never know what he's going to veto," Casey said of President Bush during his visit to ESU on Wednesday. "Even something as worthy as this."
The money would fund law enforcement training, cyber crime technologies and forensics research at ESU's Cyber Crime and Forensics Institute, which will be housed at the school's new Science and Technology Center.
That building is being erected and will open in summer 2008.
The Institute also received $987,000 through the Bureau of Justice Administration in 2006.
The new money announced by Casey will help train law enforcement at the national, state and local levels in cyber crime and forensics.
ESU's computer security program has been widely hailed.
It is one of six programs in the state, and one of 85 programs nationwide to be certified as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The program is working with other universities to build a cyber-fraud data warehouse, track software pirates and fight cyber crime, according to N. Paul Schembari, director of the computer security program.
Casey also heard presentations from Jane Huffman, biology professor, and Eugenia Skirta, assistant professor of math, on wildlife DNA projects and statistics consulting work they are each doing.
During Casey's briefing, he met recent ESU graduates who have launched their own start-ups nearby: Cinch Media, a Web design firm, and Grad Techs, a tech support and software development company.
"We have a tremendous higher education infrastructure in the state," Casey said. "The problem we have is getting good ideas — even really visionary ones — across the divide from the academic world to the economic world. We've got to figure out ways to incentivize people to take risks the way you did."
Casey also strolled down Normal Street with ESU President Robert Dillman to look at the Science and Technology Center under construction. Hard-hats waved and Casey gave them the thumbs-up sign.
He met later in the day with representatives of the American Federation of Government Employees at the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Tobyhanna.