Dr. Keith Taylor, President of Gannon University and Dr. Walter Iwanenko, Vice President of Academic Affairs, representing I-HACK.
Gannon University's College of Engineering and Business is launching two new programs, cybersecurity and cyber engineering and creating an Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge (I-HACK) in the 100,000-square-foot Knight Tower.
Students in the cyber programs will have the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree in either area, and a criminal justice major can earn a minor in cybersecurity, beginning in the fall of 2019.
The decision to create these programs was driven by the faculty who seized a unique opportunity to capitalize on the University's exceptional electrical, software and computer engineering and computer and information science majors. More importantly, however, the program was designed to meet the growing needs of today's national and global job markets and take the regional expertise to a new level, leading the engineering and design realm of the field.
According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, by the year 2021 it is estimated that cybercrime damage will exceed $6 trillion in expenses annually. Perhaps just as surprising, however, is the prediction it makes regarding new employment opportunities; the report predicts that roughly 3.5 million vacant positions globally are expected by the same year.
Fong Mak, Ph.D. professor of electrical and computer engineering and interim program director for the new cyber programs, spoke to the significance of these statistics.
"The entire world has just begun engaging with what they call the 'Industrial Revolution 4.0,' and cybersecurity, AI applications and the internet of things are major parts of the process," he said. "The marketplace is desperate for talent with these technical, design and creative skills, and Gannon will be preparing students to meet that demand."
Students will have the opportunity to develop high proficiency in both cyber engineering, focused on the hardware-related components, and cybersecurity, centered primarily on software, Mak said.
Vice President of Academic Affairs, Walter Iwanenko, Ph.D., clarified Gannon's decision to simultaneously launch both of these programs and the I-HACK here in Erie, Pa.
"While there are other cyber security programs in the country that focus more on the assessment and analysis aspects of cybercrimes and systems, our programs set the bar as ABET accredited programs for the design and creation of secure intelligent systems from both the hardware and software applications of cybersecurity," he said. "We want our students out there designing systems, integrating robust secure systems and protecting your personal and business information."
Accompanying the program launch is the new facility designed as the Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge, I-HACK, to be housed in Gannon's Knight Tower. This new facility will consist of a security-controlled hacking lab, cyber defense lab, engineering labs, secure data center and two floors of flexible space to house external industry partners.
While regional cyber security programs exist, Gannon will be the first to meet the ABET's accreditation standards and to offer cyber engineering as well, leading many to anticipate Gannon as the forthcoming lead regional institution in cybersecurity and cyber engineering.
Students enrolled in the cyber programs will gain knowledge and expertise in the areas of IT security, mobile security and implementation, ethical hacking, cyber information security, data security, information assurance, server and cloud security, among others. Furthermore, graduates will find application in a wide range of fields, including health care, hardware and software design, security services, secure data storage and security communication.
Iwanenko commented on the overall implications of the programs. "The decision to commit to secure intelligent systems design will impact students in majors across the University, including healthcare, business, science, math and criminal justice," he said. "These new programs are the first phase of a longer-term initiative that will allow Gannon to continue as a leader in delivering high-quality professional education and to be a stronger partner in Erie's efforts to become a center of excellence in cybersecurity and intelligent systems design."
For more information on the cybersecurity and cyber engineering programs, see www.gannon.edu/i-hack.