LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Engineering is launching a four-course cybersecurity certificate program that will provide undergraduate students with the expertise to fortify digital networks in workplaces, schools and at home.
Bo Luo, professor of electrical engineering & computer science, said the new certificate is a response to growing demand from employers and students.
“There is strong demand in industry from employers. They want students who know cybersecurity,” he said. “There is also growing interest from students. They want security courses and something more than the transcript to show they have taken the courses — that they received systematic training on cybersecurity. We see the need, and we answer to the needs."
To obtain the certificate, undergraduate students will have to take four classes:
• EECS 563, Introduction to Communications Networks, which includes a discussion of the uses of communications networks and network traffic.
• EECS 565, Introduction to Information and Computer Security, which offers a primer on basic concepts, theories and protocols in computer security.
• A “cyberdefense” requirement that can be earned either by taking one three-credit class for a semester or by practicing cyberdefense techniques in real-world situations over three semesters, earning one credit per semester.
• And the student’s choice of related courses offered by EEECS. "We have a broad range of security-related courses,” Luo said.
The new program joins an existing certificate in cybersecurity program that is available to graduate students.
As for the new certificate, Luo said, "We expect there is going to be strong demand for this."
Students in the program “have a better chance to get job offers,” he said. “They may also be able to get better pay. More importantly, with that knowledge, with that certificate, a student in software engineering is going to produce code that is less vulnerable. There will be a long-term benefit there.”
The new certificate program is just the latest sign of KU’s growing strength in cybersecurity research and instruction. In recent years, the university has expanded cybersecurity faculty — there are now five tenure-track positions. In 2016, the National Science Foundation awarded the university a $4.7 million, five-year grant to educate cyberdefense experts dedicated to public service in federal jobs. In 2018, KU was selected by the NSA for a comprehensive, five-year cybersecurity project to secure the Internet of Things.
The university has also been named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) and Research (CAE-R) by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
And in the summer of 2019, KU offered a GenCyber cybersecurity summer camp to educators from around the Midwest.
"We're really growing in terms of cybersecurity education and research,” Luo said. "We have this critical mass."