The Birth of Cybersecurity

By Annabelle Blaire | February 17, 2017

Ported from an Echo article by Annabelle Blair

It’s been created and has a list of classes established, but Taylor’s cybersecurity major doesn’t officially exist-at least, not yet.

Current students will be allowed to enroll in the major when the catalogue comes out in August, and incoming students can declare it now.

Lockheed Martin, a worldwide global security and aerospace company, awarded Taylor’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) a $100,000 grant in December. The funds indicated professional recognition of the creation of the new major, officially titled Computer Science/Cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity, loosely defined as computer and network security, is currently an emphasis within Taylor’s computer science major. However, the new cybersecurity major course load will require students to take major-specific core computer science classes as well as 4-5 security courses.

Taylor’s CSE department created the new major primarily to attract available funds from grant-awarding institutions, according to Dannie Stanley, assistant professor of computer science and engineering.

“If there (wasn’t) the prospect of getting grants, we wouldn’t have a separate major,” Stanley said. “Because the major itself is pretty much a computer science degree-it’s just kind of ‘flavored.’”

The cybersecurity market is expected to jump from $75 billion in 2015 to $170 billion by 2020, according to a Forbes article, which speculates the area of study will be a high-demand career field. As a hot topic in current U.S. news, cybersecurity education is frequently inquired about by prospective Taylor students, Stanley said.

Lockheed’s grant provides funding to Taylor’s entire CSE department. The grant encompasses student security research for Lockheed’s Advanced Technology Labs, which students will work on in Taylor’s Software Reverse Engineering and Analysis course.

Senior Caleb Dinsmore, a computer science major with an emphasis in artificial intelligence and president of Taylor’s cybersecurity club, is one of the students performing research for Lockheed.

“The fact that we got this grant to do this work that is so interesting and so different from what Taylor has done in the past is so amazing,” Dinsmore said. “We’re setting up systems we didn’t know we would need until the semester started.”

For Dinsmore and three other students in the Software Reverse Engineering and Analysis course, classes began on Sunday, Jan. 29, with a one-day trip to Washington, D.C. Accompanied by Stanley and Jonathan Geisler, associate professor of computer science and engineering, the students visited Lockheed’s Washington, D.C . facility to engage in an initial client meeting. Trip expenses were completely covered by the grant.

Stanley said he and Geisler brought the students on the trip to help students expand their horizons and the career prospects available to them after Taylor.

“I think sometimes they get a little tunnel-visioned with the kind of work they get into, so I just want them to have all the opportunities that are due them,” Stanley said. He encourages the CSE majors to pursue grad school and engage in further research within computer science.

Junior Jonathan Ruggiero is majoring in computer science with a concentration in intelligent systems with systems. He plans on dropping systems and switching to the cybersecurity major in the fall. “Cybersecurity is way deeper into the actual science mind,” Ruggiero said.

According to Ruggiero, systems works with software and code, while cybersecurity allows students to focus specifically on cybersecurity teamwork and efficient software development. The new major will prepare him for grad school, which Ruggiero is considering attending.