In the lab, students work on projects that help them hone skills in detecting malicious applications and identifying threats to industrial control systems. Atkison reminds them that there are currently more than 2 billion people and 12 billion devices included in the online world, and that the professionals who work in cybersecurity will have to constantly outmaneuver the next threat.
"We're all about project-based, hands-on learning here," says Atkison. "We're teaching these students to think on their feet and be problem solvers because in the cyber field, they're going to be working on issues in 10 years that don't even exist today."
In the fall of 2012, the institution launched a four-year cyber-engineering major - the first such degree program in
Over the last seven years, economic developers here in north
It's a departure for a region of a state known more for oil and gas, advanced manufacturing industries and agriculture. But efforts to grow the industry have paid off. Since 2007, north
"Essentially, we are building a cybersecurity economic development engine here," says
The cluster growth expanded across north
Technology start-ups focused on commercializing the nanotechnology and cybersecurity research coming out of
"The growth in our cyber and technology sectors demands that our region, state and nation address the critical shortage of workers with technology and STEM skills," says
The Cyber Innovation Center promotes the advancement of STEM and cybereducation in both secondary and postsecondary educational institutions. It has worked closely with
One of its major projects is the weeklong Cyber Discovery training program. It seeks to engage small groups of students and teachers in both the technical and social science aspects of cyberspace.
We designed Cyber Discovery to provide an interdisciplinary experience for teachers and students by showing the linkages between history, engineering, mathematics, political science and computer science, and then wrapping those elements within today's social context and current technologies," says
The Cyber Discovery model was rolled out nationally at the
The idea of the Cyber Discovery program, says Cazes, is to train small groups of teachers in STEM teaching fundamen- tals, including classroom project ideas. The program also provides opportunities for selected students to engage in upper level STEM projects, including hands-on labs that showcase cybersecurity, cryptography, engineering, mathematics and forensics. Both teachers and students return to their school settings and spread enthusiasm for STEM education.
The center is working to develop modules that reach more middle school children, so that from an early age, students are more comfortable with STEM disciplines.
"It's not enough to teach math and science in silos. We also believe it's important to integrate liberal arts into the idea of cyber and STEM curricula. Kids need to learn to think on their feet and to put cyber issues into the proper context," Cazes says.
"Down the road, here and elsewhere, we are going to need thousands and thousands of workers in this field, where you might currently only have hundreds," he says.
The traditional model of teaching cyber has morphed into a more comprehensive interdisciplinary academic program.
Jabbour is a national expert in information assurance, including defensive information warfare and offensive information warfare technology. About five years ago, he advocated the creation of cyber-engineering degree programs that could prepare students in the field in a more thorough manner than was being achieved in academic programs where it was an academic concentration, not a major.
'We took Dr. Jabbour's idea very seriously," says Atkison. "We started on developing a curriculum that could not only give students the right balance of the technical skills, but also the right liberal arts background to put this type of work in the proper context."
Between the first and second year of the program, student enrollment jumped 300 percent.
'We know we're on the frontier of this body of work," says Atkison. "In something like traditional electrical engineering, you study the same circuits today that you studied 10 years ago. But in cyber-engineering, we know that what's out there in a decade will be nothing like what we see now. That means we have to create problem solvers - students who will be able to adapt." ND
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