CHARLESTON, S.C. (courtesy charlestonsouthern.edu) — The world of cybersecurity is rapidly evolving, and Charleston Southern University is at the forefront of this new frontier with its cybersecurity major, which graduated its first class in the spring.
Dr. Yu-Ju Lin has been working at CSU for over 16 years and is the director of graduate studies in computer science. In 2017 he founded the CSU Cybersecurity Club, and only a year later, cybersecurity was introduced as an official major.
The major has experienced exponential growth, starting with only eight students and growing to over 30 in just two years, with all of the recent graduates finding work in the Charleston area.
In the world today, technology pervades every aspect of life, and this is reflected in the growth of the industry. Cybersecurity is a rapidly growing field with incredible potential in the greater Charleston area. The “U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts that in the next 10 years, the job market related to cybersecurity is going to raise 28%,” Lin said.
The members of the first graduating class opted to pursue careers in the defense sector, finding employment at the Naval Information Warfare Center.
“There’s just such an abundance of riches here in Charleston, no matter what field you want to go into,” said Dr. Valerie Sessions, chair of the computer science department. Sessions previously worked at NIWC, where she continues to work part time.
Students from CSU intern at a variety of companies in the Charleston area, including NIWC, Blackbaud, and Benefitfocus, with some students receiving highly sought after internships in federal agencies.
“If a student comes to our program, they definitely have a lot of jobs waiting for them,” said Lin. One of his students was recently hired by J.P. Morgan, reportedly beating out candidates from universities such as Yale and Harvard.
Students within the major have the opportunity to gain valuable real-world experience through the Cybersecurity Club, which travels to multiple national competitions.
“It really is a student-led organization, so we have just come up alongside them to try to help foster that and help foster their desire to do that,” said Professor Julie Henderson, the academic advisor for the club.
During the competitions, students are placed in situations similar to those they might face in the workplace.
“During the competition, they will learn something that we are unable to teach them, like real-world defense or real-world attack. In class we make the environment, so they know how to hack or how to defend, but in the competition they are experiencing firsthand the real-world situation,” said Lin.
Adjunct CSU Professor Melton Lane is an operations security manager at NIWC and believes that in today’s world cybersecurity is more important than ever. Lane is a Navy veteran and worked in Project SeaHawk and other antiterrorist operations.
He reinforces the importance of cyber defense today, saying “It’s not just about Department of Defense; it’s not just about warfare; it’s about espionage as well; it’s about business competing against business, country against country in the business world.”
For more information about Charleston Southern’s cybersecurity program, please click here.