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Partnership to Prepare Students for Careers in the Emerging Field of Cybersecurity

James K. Nelson, Brent L. Donham

Abstract: Extended Abstract Cybersecurity is an emerging field with significant implications as the use of interconnected devices increases. In 2011 the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group [1] reported that sometime between 2008 and 2009 the number of connected devices exceeded the world population. Within major telecommunications companies, the mix of services provided is changing. Data for ATT, as presented by the Wall Street Journal, [2] show a decrease in wireline services and the increase in wireless services. Although wireless services segment grew by six percent, the revenue from wireless services grew by 166 percent. Also of interest in these data is the growth of the “Other” business sector, which includes streaming and online services. That segment nearly tripled in the decade reported. This segment indicates that not only are individuals connecting more devices, they are utilizing more on-line resources. The internet of things has its complement in the industrial internet of things (IIOT), also characterized as “operational technology” to distinguish it from information technology. The nation’s infrastructure and economy (e.g., transportation, electrical grid, manufacturing) is increasingly dependent on securing the interface between IT and OT within the broader internet of things. Each of these devices and connections represents a potential entry point for individuals with malicious intentions. As such, many contend that cybersecurity is national security. This validity of this contention has been evident with the recent ransom attacks recently occurring in several Texas jurisdictions. A direct result of the growth of the number of Internet connected devices and the inherent security risks is the need for more individuals trained in the field of cybersecurity and related operational technologies. [name] is a 2,000-acre [name] System that integrates education, research, and work-force training in a first of its kind model the state of Texas. By assembling a diverse spectrum of engineering and technology tenants into one location, the campus fosters collaboration between enterprises that seek to shape the future through transformation, innovation and education. The educational programs at [name] focus on collaboration between two-year and four-year [name] System institutions providing powerful opportunities for students. At a recent meeting of the [name] External Academic Advisory Council, cybersecurity was identified as a needed strategic initiative. In response to recommendations made by the External Academic Advisory Council, the [name] Academic Alliance developed the [name] Cybersecurity Alliance to provide for quality control and coordination of program offerings at [name]. The purpose of the [name] Cybersecurity Alliance is to: 1. Provide a venue through which relevant academic and training programs that satisfy industry needs are offered and that enable the students to develop demonstrable hands-on skills; 2. Provide a mechanism by which industry involvement in the offerings can be ensured; and 3. Educate the region about career pathways in cybersecurity, and the vast opportunities within those careers. Presented in this paper is the development and implementation of the [name] Cybersecurity Alliance and the comprehensive programs that are offered through the Alliance. Included is the new bachelor’s degree program in cybersecurity, which was developed from a “clean sheet” with significant industry involvement. Also presented are the initial professional development courses that are being offered. The physical laboratory spaces that have been purpose-built enabling students to obtain hands-on experience as part of the academic and professional development programs are also discussed. A strong component in the development of each of these pieces was the active involvement the public and private sector.
Keywords: model / Engineering and technology / internet / devices / Careers / Alliance / name / diverse / field of cybersecurity

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