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Magnet Virtual Summit 2024

Fostering the Next Generation of Digital Investigators: Lessons from the Notre Dame Model of a Student-Led Digital Forensics Unit

In an era where technology permeates every aspect of our lives, the intersection of academia and law enforcement becomes increasingly critical. This presentation presents an innovative program that breaks new ground in digital forensics education and practice. In 2015, the St. Joseph County Prosecutor and the University of Notre Dame partnered together and hired one college student to train and conduct digital forensics exams. Since that time, the program has expanded to 21 students. These students aren’t just scholars; they are sworn police investigators who work on real law enforcement cases, contributing to the fight against cybercrime.

In this presentation, we will provide a comprehensive overview of this unique program, highlighting its development, structure, and impact. Four students, representing the future of digital forensics, will join me to share their experiences, challenges, and successes. We will discuss the symbiotic relationship between academia and law enforcement, showcasing how this model has been replicated statewide in Indiana and has garnered national attention. Through this talk, we aim to inspire educators, law enforcement agencies, and institutions nationwide to explore innovative ways of preparing the next generation of digital detectives, fostering collaboration, and advancing the field of digital forensics.

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