Wichita State Adding Cybersecurity Programs

Jan 23, 2017

More than two dozen Wichita-area companies are looking to hire cybersecurity experts. The problem is there are not enough trained workers to fill the openings.

KMUW’s Deborah Shaar reports on how Wichita State University is trying to fill the void.

Wichita State’s College of Engineering is adding new undergraduate and graduate concentrations in cybersecurity.

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Department Chair and Professor John Watkins says students will learn about computer networks and infrastructure so they know how those systems can be exploited.

"What we are really hoping our students will be able to do is design systems that are secure and can be protected from outside attackers," Watkins says.

Students will also be trained on protecting the privacy of individuals and companies.

Watkins says it’s a growing area of concern as more everyday appliances such as refrigerators become connected to the internet.

"As we bring more and more things online to provide convenience and efficiency and all kinds of wonderful things, all of the sudden, now we open up more and more opportunities for people to use those same devices to either gather information about us or do bad things."

The graduate certificate program began this semester, and the undergraduate concentration will begin in the fall.

The college hired two additional faculty members to support the new programs.

Cybersecurity has been identified by the South Central Kansas Blueprint for Regional Economic Growth (BREG) as an area for employment growth in the region.

BREG is an initiative of the Greater Wichita Partnership, a coalition of public and private partners working on economic development.

Nationally, 209,000 cybersecurity jobs are unfilled, and job postings are up 75 percent over the past five years, according to a 2015 analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A report by Cisco estimates a global shortfall of one million cybersecurity openings.

Locally, more than two dozen employers affiliated with BREG need cybersecurity-trained workers, including the Kansas Air National Guard, Koch Industries, NetApp and Boeing.

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