A new bachelor of science in cybersecurity engineering is coming to Augusta University in the fall 2019 after the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved the proposal Tuesday afternoon.
Augusta University is the first higher education institution in the State of Georgia to provide a cybersecurity engineering program and only one of a handful in the country.
“Out of all the cyber announcements we’ve made in the past three years, this is certainly one of the most exciting for Augusta University and the City of Augusta,” said Dr. Gretchen Caughman, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “The demand for highly qualified cybersecurity professionals continues to grow in the greater Augusta area, and Augusta University is working hard to meet it.”
This will be a program that takes a complete360 degree look at cybersecurity. Cybersecurity programs usually look into software security only; the new engineering program integrates cybersecurity principles into design, construction and use of secure systems that necessarily include both software and hardware. The program will teach students about securing integrated software and hardware systems, while also exploring people’s interaction with software and hardware and the security implications of those interactions.
“Focusing solely on software security can give only a false sense of security when it comes to protecting your computer and information systems,” said Dr. Alex Schwarzmann, dean of the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences. “We need rigorous approaches to securing both software and hardware dimensions of systems. Our adversaries can use computer chips and other hardware components to compromise systems even if the software itself is secure. In fact, China recently accomplished that and has spied on dozens of American companies. Events like this demonstrate why we need to pay more attention to hardware security. That is why this bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity engineering is so important.”
The new program better positions Augusta University to earn a designation as an NSA Center of Excellence in Cyber Operations. The university was designated an NSA Center of Excellence in Cyber Defense in April 2016.
In addition to engineering, Augusta University will also start two new programs in the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences: bachelor of science in cyber operations and bachelor of science in cybersecurity.
The school currently offers a bachelor’s degree in computer science with an option of concentration in cyber operations, and a bachelor’s degree in information technology with options of concentration in business or cybersecurity.
In the fall 2019, in addition to cybersecurity engineering, students will have four other cyber-related options of bachelor’s degrees: computer science, cyber operations, information technology and cybersecurity.
Students in the cyber operations program will learn about computer science theory, practical use and security. In the cybersecurity program, students will learn about the foundation and security of information technology. Both programs meet NSA and Department of Homeland Security specifications for a cyber defense education.
Besides the undergraduate majors, the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences also offers a master’s degree in information security management, a cyber defender and an advanced cyber defender certificate at the undergraduate level, and a certificate in health care information security at the graduate level. The school is currently expanding its graduate offerings.
The school has 434 undergraduate students currently enrolled – 227 studying information technology and 207 studying computer science – compared to 102 in 2015. This represents a 425 percent increase since the launch of the Augusta University Cyber Institute in 2015.
To accommodate the new programs, the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences plans to hire more than 20 new faculty members in the next few years, and is currently recruiting the first cohort of 12 faculty members.
“We’ve come a long way since we learned that a cyber tsunami would soon hit Augusta,” said Joanne Sexton, who oversaw the planning stages of all the new programs as the founding dean of the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences and director of the Cyber Institute. “I’m proud to have been a part of the growth in our computer science, information technology and cyber programs, and I can’t wait to see the future growth.”