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Computer Science Professor David Abarca Receives Recognition by U.S. Coast Guard and FBI

Abarca’s four-year service focused on cyber security and building membership of Corpus Christi extension of FBI’s Houston InfraGard Chapter to keep critical infrastructure secure

Article by Melinda Eddleman

For Del Mar College (DMC) Computer Science professor David Abarca, Ph.D., who teaches in the College’s Computer Science, Engineering and Advanced Technology Department and serves as director of the DMC Information Security Program, cyber security is serious business. And most likely, Coastal Bend residents have seen the educator provide his expertise on the subject during local news broadcasts over the years.

On Oct. 9, Abarca received recognition of another sort.

U.S. Coast Guard and local Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) representatives held a ceremony to honor Abarca for his service and leadership as chief of the Coastal Bend Special Interest Group (SIG), which is an extension of the FBI’s Houston InfraGard Chapter and a public-private initiative to safeguard critical infrastructure. The professor is stepping down from leading the local SIG.


I have had a great four years working with the FBI and developing the Coastal Bend Special Interest Group. It’s now time to step down and let the next group of young leaders carry forward the mission of the SIG to enhance public-private partnerships to protect the nation’s 16 critical infrastructure areas and continue to grow the local group into a wider regional group.
David Abarca, Ph.D., DMC Computer Science Professor and Information Security Program Director

Under his leadership the first year, Abarca noted that the local SIG was one of the quickest startups nationwide. He held the SIG’s first meeting in February 2017, and its membership quickly grew from nothing to almost 80.

That accomplishment earned Abarca the FBI’s “Rookie of the Year” award in 2018. He was also among 10 individuals chosen to participate in the Bureau’s Citizens Academy that year.

Created almost 25 years ago, InfraGard is a partnership between the FBI and the private sector and is an association encompassing people from business and industry, academic institutions, law enforcement agencies and other fields. Members are dedicated to sharing information and intelligence to prevent hostile acts against the United States. During chapter meetings, members discuss threats and other issues that impact their organizations, along with best practices.

Among their charge, the local SIG served a key role supporting the Coast Guard’s Area Maritime Security Committee, which is a product of the Maritime Transportation Security Act designed to enhance the protection of U.S. seaports.

Abarca said, “Between my service on the Texas Cyber Security Council and InfraGard, I have had the rarest of opportunities to influence state, regional and national policies and help author some current Texas laws regarding cyber security. Membership and leadership with these organizations have been vehicles that have allowed me to engage in all levels of service to my community, state and country.”

About Del Mar College

Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.