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USF adds undergraduate degree in cybersecurity

Bill DeYoung



Cybersecurity image. File photo.

The University of South’s Florida College of Engineering and Computer Sciences has increased its firepower in the ongoing battle against cyber attacks. The Florida Center for Cybersecurity, a research and implementation agency tying together all 12 State University of Florida institutions, has been based on campus since 2014, at the same time USF began offering an interdisciplinary, online Masters program in cybersecurity.

Just added to the crimefighting team: A bachelor’s degree. Starting in the fall, it will be the first undergraduate major of its kind at USF.

The idea, according to College of Engineering dean Robert H. Bishop, is to educate the next generation of engineers to design resilient and potentially hack-proof systems.

“When the world gets connected through computers, it means that there are opportunities for folks who don’t have good intentions to disrupt our lives,” Bishop said. “Cybersecurity is critically important, especially as we move towards the internet of things, where there are literally going to be billions and billions of devices connected around the world.”

Any device with an embedded computer, Bishop added, is a potential target, from automobiles to appliances to medical equipment. “And even more seriously, think about the infrastructure, such as the power systems, the transportation systems. Those things can be disrupted by people with bad intent.”

Jobs in the cybersecurity industry will grow by nearly 30 percent through 2026, experts say. And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the median salary for information security analysts will be more than $95,000.

That’s a big reason USF is launching its Bachelor of Sciences degree in the field. The jobs will be there waiting, a Masters or not.

“Industry needs cybersecurity expertise, but not necessarily at the graduate level,” Bishop said. “The graduate program is much broader; it doesn’t focus so much on computer science and engineering. The undergraduate program is based on a strong technical foundation in computer science, computer engineering and information technology. You are prepared to step into industry as an active participant.

“Now, the students who graduate from this program can go into the Masters program to broaden their knowledge base, if that’s what they choose to do. You can come back and get the Masters and learn more about specific areas, such as healthcare or banking.”

Bishop said about 100 students are expected to enroll this first year, about half of them as transfers from other FSU programs.

In addition to the Masters and undergraduate degrees, the university also offers a Masters program in cybercrime, and multiple cybersecurity certificate programs, making it both a statewide and national leader.

For Bishop, the Florida Center for Cybersecurity being headquartered at FSU is a perfect fit. “It’s great, in my opinion, because we have such an active and growing sense in the Tampa Bay area about cybersecurity,” he said. “There’s a whole ecosystem starting to come up.”

For information of the USF cybersecurity programs, click here.







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