UT is launching a Cyber Academy Defense Certificate Program in March, which is designed to prepare students for careers in cybersecurity and satisfy the demand for trained professionals in the field.
The TEXAS Extended Campus, which offers noncredit online training courses to community members, is implementing the program. Karen Smid, extended campus’ director of enrollment and student services, said the program’s curriculum was developed with the United States Department of Defense and Socratic Arts, a custom-training development company.
“(The courses) fit with our mission of providing career readiness training that supports students in their career goals while meeting the needs of employers,” Smid said.
UT’s computer science department predicts more than three million unfulfilled jobs in the cybersecurity industry by 2021. The median starting salary for cybersecurity jobs in Austin is $86,000, according to a press release by TEXAS Extended Campus.
Smid said the certificate requires the completion of two courses, which span 14 weeks and collectively cost $5,600. After receiving the certificate, Smid said students will be eligible to enroll in an offensive cybersecurity certificate program scheduled to be released later.
“It is difficult to predict how many registrants to expect for a brand-new program,” Smid said. “Five people have already registered for course one. Ultimately, we hope that our programs will train at least 150 people a year to begin new cybersecurity careers.”
Ray Bareiss, Socratic Arts’ senior vice president, said his company developed the program to help counter threats in the cyber landscape. He said the program’s courses will be entirely online and project based, where students operate as cyberdefenders or cyberattackers in simulations.
“There’s not many threats that are bigger than the threat of cybercrime and cyberattacks from adversarial countries,” Bareiss said. “The Department of Defense saw the need to develop scalable online training to address the tremendous shortage of cybersecurity people, and so we won a competitive bid contract to develop
Bareiss said the program has no prerequisites and encourages anyone interested to apply.
“Rather than the people who have the really kind of high level, pre-existing technical skills, we try to encourage people with the right personalities to enroll. By that I mean people who are intensely curious about things, people who won’t give up on a problem no matter how difficult it is and people who are predisposed towards self-directed learning,” Bareiss said.
The program has been adopted by Rutgers University, Bareiss said, and Socratic Arts chose UT as its next launch site because it previously partnered with the University to implement another high-demand technical program for data analytics.
“Everything from your doorbell to your car to your pacemaker to your electrical system to you-name-it is online,” Bareiss said. “You know the old cliché, ‘What could possibly go wrong?’ Well, a lot could go wrong, and they need people to defend these things because people are constantly probing and attacking.”
Retired Navy Admiral Bobby R. Inman is the centennial chair in national policy at UT’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Inman said this development of new technology has imposed cybersecurity risks across the world and propelled the demand for cybersecurity professionals.
“You’ll find that all over the country, universities, corporations and state and local governments are trying to beef up their cybersecurity because of all the vulnerabilities that have been demonstrated,” Inman said.