University of Mary Offers Cybersecurity Education

Due to student interest and high demand in the field, the school decided to offer a bachelor’s degree in computer science with a cybersecurity concentration starting fall 2016.

by Jessica Holdman, The Bismarck Tribune / November 9, 2015 0

(TNS) — Growing up, Andrew Dubiel was always looking for loopholes.

The Colorado Springs native and University of Mary student taught himself computer programming and developed that hacker mentality of beating the system — but he wanted use his powers for good. He found that in cybersecurity.

Because of Dubiel’s interest and that of other students, along with high demand in the field, the U-Mary decided to offer a bachelor’s degree in computer science with a cybersecurity concentration starting fall 2016.

The degree program started with the creation of Computer Club 1.5 years ago.

Jennifer Fennewald, a former manager for IBM’s security team and a teacher at U-Mary, had Dubiel and other students express interest in cybersecurity.

“The Sony hack really opened our eyes to the seriousness of cybersecurity,” Dubiel said. “When Target was hacked, it really motivated us to think and implement security.”

Fennewald brought in Tim Swartz, a cybersecurity employee at KLJ who gets paid to find flaws in systems, to talk about hacking and ways to prevent it.

Dubiel said he began to notice companies would give employees freedom to solve cybersecurity issues.

“I began thinking why aren’t we putting this stuff together; why can’t we do this.”

Computer Club morphed into curriculum and students are conducting local service projects. Dubiel and his partners are developing a dead man’s switch for corporate computers. If an employee leaves a computer without logging out, Dubiel’s program does it for them.

Dubiel started by making a removable flash drive the trigger and is working on making it wireless to increase convenience.

“I think this is pretty unique for any college or university of any size,” Fennewald said. “I am certainly very proud of them for not only putting in hours of class time but countless extra time on their own to bring this and other ideas to fruition in real-life applications.”

Other projects include a calculator for the statistics department that not only gives answers but breaks down problems so students can learn how to do them and software for the accounting department to help teach students accounting principles.

“There's a huge need for cybersecurity,” Fennewald said.

That includes writing good code along with introducing preventive measures into programs.

“It rewires my thinking. Instead of just a computer degree, it got me thinking about how computers work,” Dubiel said, and it has caused him to look at all aspects with an eye for security.

Dubiel said his ideal job would be contracting with companies to hack their information and then show them how to protect themselves.

“I think it’s great,” Swartz said of the new degree program. ”Almost any IT field can benefit from security training.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for computer science will continue to grow 15 to 25 percent through the year 2022. The Information Technology Council in the state of North Dakota has seen a 20 percent increase in information technology jobs throughout the past decade and predicts a 45 percent increase over the next decade.

“I can’t put too fine a point on it, but this job sector is booming because entities at all levels — government, financial institutions, health care providers, energy, retail and any organization with sensitive data — whether they realize it or not, are under attack by hackers,” University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea said in a statement. “This new program at Mary will be a huge windfall for companies in North Dakota and across America.”

For more information, go to www.umary.edu/computerscience.

©2015 The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, N.D.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.