Contributed by Dr. Ulku Y. Clark, Professor of Management Information Systems,
and Dr. Geoff Stoker, Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems, Congdon School of SC, BA, IS
As the digital revolution reaches middle age, spawning billions of networked digital devices moving vast amounts of information at higher speeds than even before, the need for good cybersecurity is coming strongly into focus. No longer the province of specialists, cybersecurity is the concern of everyone that touches an electronic device. With over 460,000 cybersecurity job openings
in the U.S. (17,000+ in N.C.), the need to produce workforce-ready graduates is acute and UNCW is striving to do its part to meet this growing need.
Faculty, Staff, and Students have been steadily cultivating a strong cybersecurity culture at UNCW for well over a decade with the pace of development accelerating in recent years. In 2018, UNCW was designated by the National Security Agency (NSA) & Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE
). Currently, there are 302
CAE-CDE designated schools (11 in N.C.) from among the nearly 4,000
degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the U.S. (about 7.5%).
UNCW established the Center for Cyber Defense Education (CCDE
) in the same year they received CAE-CDE designation. The CCDE has the stated purpose to strengthen the cybersecurity aptitude of our entire community of scholars, so they are equipped to wisely balance the unique risks of living in an all-digital future
. With UNCW administration support, the CCDE team
, consisting of cybersecurity faculty, staff, students, and advisory board members, has been positively affecting the cybersecurity posture of UNCW and the southeast N.C. community across many fronts, including community outreach, curriculum program development, faculty involvement, and student participation.
Outreach to the broader southeast N.C. community has involved a series of conferences
, and speaking engagements
. The main CCDE outreach event is the annual cybersecurity awareness conference held each year since 2019 during the month of October. This year’s conference
, held entirely online, will take place October 23rd from 8:30am-4:45pm and feature two keynote speakers along with three panels of experts addressing current cybersecurity trends, cybersecurity awareness, and cybersecurity compliance. Through these events, CCDE increases awareness of the community in cybersecurity issues, offers a networking and collaboration environment to regional cybersecurity professionals, and keeps students informed of current trends and technologies.
On the education front UNCW offers an array of cybersecurity-related programs:
- IT Major with Cybersecurity Concentration: this is an interdisciplinary technical program with an emphasis on practical hands-on skills; some of the core courses are focused on industry certification training; students completing this path receive a certificate from NSA/DHS
- CS Major with Security Concentration: detail-oriented technical computer science program with a cybersecurity focus
- Cybersecurity Minor: 18-credit hour interdisciplinary minor open to all UNCW majors
- MBA with Cybersecurity Specialization: designed for managers interested in leading organizational cybersecurity programs
- Cybersecurity Major: the interdisciplinary cybersecurity program recently approved by the UNC Board of Governors to begin fall 2022, this is the first cybersecurity undergraduate major offered in the UNC system; some of the core courses are focused on industry certification training
A key part of creating workforce-ready graduates is providing on-the-job training to bring alive knowledge acquired during formal classroom education. Internship and apprenticeship programs with UNCW’s own Information Technology Security Department (ITS
), and UNCW partner organizations like DefenseStorm
and Live Oak Bank
provide those important opportunities for students. The CCDE is always on the lookout for additional partnership opportunities. Cybersecurity students can potentially fill gaps for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) that do not have the staff or budget space for full-time help. Email
CCDE Director Dr. Clark if your organization is interested in partnering with UNCW in this area. For more information on UNCW cybersecurity programs and CCDE activities including this year’s cybersecurity awareness conference, please visit https://uncw.edu/ccde/