Jan 08 2019

Augusta University Launches State’s First Cybersecurity Engineering Degree Program

The new curriculum will teach hardware, software and human components of cybersecurity.

Within the next 12 months, industry experts predict a major shortfall in cybersecurity professionals, a gap spanning anywhere from 1.5 million to as many as 2 million.

In response, institutions such as Augusta University in Georgia have created specialized degrees to narrow the skills gap and provide a workforce ready to handle the growing issue of cybercrime. 

One of AU’s newest majors, cybersecurity engineering, was recently approved by the university’s board of regents for classes beginning in the fall of 2019. It’s the first program in Georgia to approach the subject from both hardware and software perspectives.

In an article for Jagwire, AU’s newspaper, Alex Schwarzmann, dean of the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences, explained that the AU degree is unique because most cybersecurity programs focus exclusively on software. The cybersecurity engineering degree will teach students to look at the problem from a broader perspective that includes hardware, software and the human elements of security.

“Focusing solely on software security can give only a false sense of security when it comes to protecting your computer and information systems,” Schwarzmann told Jagwire. “We need rigorous approaches to securing both software and hardware dimensions of systems.”

The cybersecurity engineering degree is just one of five IT bachelor’s programs at AU. Two other new degrees — a Bachelor of Science with a major in cyber operations and a Bachelor of Science with a major in cybersecurity — will be added to the existing degrees of computer science and information technology.

MORE FROM EDTECH: See how universities are helping to grow the skilled cybersecurity workforce.

Augusta Sees Growth in City's Cybersecurity Industry

In presenting the new program to the AU board, President Brooks Keel said that Augusta was experiencing a “Cyber Tsunami” as a result of growth by local businesses and the relocation of the U.S. Army Cyber Command to the city.

“We knew as soon as the Army made the decision to move the Cyber Command that something big was going to happen in Augusta,” Keel told The Augusta Chronicle.

Between the Army Cyber headquarters, the growing presence of the National Security Agency and other companies that are flocking to Augusta, 13,000 new professionals will be moving to the area, intensifying the demand for qualified workers.

Keel and other leaders at AU intend to work closely with these newcomers to shape their programs and train students with the right skills.

“The thing we have to do is be flexible in terms of what we offer to meet what the industry and the workforce needs, but also, in doing that, we want to make sure we give students an option a year or two years or three years down the road,” Keel told the Chronicle.

In addition, AU Provost Gretchen Caughman said the university is working with the military to customize training and to offer military professionals credit hours that can be applied to a degree.

Students also see the opportunity in computer science: Enrollment has increased in AU’s degree programs by 428 percent over the past three years. The university expects these numbers to continue to grow rapidly. 

“The demand for the degrees will continue at least for five years in double-digit percentages per year,” Schwarzmann told the Chronicle.

For more information on cybersecurity programs in universities across the U.S., visit this list of top cybersecurity schools for 2019.


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