March 01--This semester, George Mason University began offering what it says is the world's first undergraduate degree in cybersecurity engineering. The program's director, Peggy Brouse, said she would have been happy to start with 15 students.
They got 64.
Old Dominion University has pulled faculty and staff from a range of disciplines -- including psychology, philosophy, business and computer science -- to form the Center for Cyber Security Education and Research. It launches today.
And Norfolk State University was tapped in January by White House officials to lead a consortium of 13 historically black colleges and universities, two national labs and one South Carolina school district with the mission of educating students in cybersecurity. The work is to be funded with a $25 million, five-year grant.
While cybercriminals ply their trade in the shadows, universities are trying to prepare the next generation for the dangers of an increasingly interconnected world.
"It's fairly scary to know how vulnerable we are on so many fronts," Brouse said. "I think we're going to be in for an interesting ride for the next 10 to 20 years, to be honest with you."
One of the goals of ODU's center is to foster new approaches to research by drawing from different disciplinary backgrounds. Take psychology, for example. Understanding why some people click on a link they shouldn't could help safeguard systems against poor decision-making.
Beyond research, the center is intended to turn out a savvier workforce in general.
"It's not just computer science and computer engineering," said Youssif Al-Nashif, the center's director. "Managers need to know more about cybersecurity."
The consortium led by Norfolk State has a similar goal. The bulk of the $25 million federal grant will go toward creating a pipeline of workers who are knowledgeable about cybersecurity, said Aurelia Williams, chairwoman of the university's computer science department.
And the new programs just keep coming.