300,000 job openings prompts WSU to add cybersecurity programs

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita State University has launched a new undergraduate and graduate program in cybersecurity in response to industry demand.

There’s a major shortage of cyber security workers across the nation, according to scholars. The demand is so great, the South Central Kansas Blueprint for Regional Economic Grown (BREG) has identified cyerbescurity as an area for employment growth in the region.

“The need is huge,” said Wichita State Professor and Chair of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science John Watkins. “It’s a case where the demand has grown faster than the supply.”

There are nearly 350,000 cyberserurity job openings in the United States, according to the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). NICE said there are about 1,700 job openings in Kansas and about 250 openings in the City of Wichita.

“Clearly, if the more graduates that we produce with this type of specialty, they are not going to have any trouble at all finding jobs in the local area,” Watkins said.

Beginning the fall of 2017, undergraduate students can pursue an engineering technology bachelor’s degree with a concentration in cybersecurity. The program will be a combination of course work from the College of Engineering and the Barton School of Business.

The graduate certificate is being offered this semester. It features four courses and is intended to be completed within a year. Watkins said it’s vital to start teaching students about online security.

“If we don’t do it, companies are going to be training people to protect themselves,” he said. “Every time we connect another device we make our life more convenient, but we also introduce new vulnerabilities.”

Watkins said until the supply can meet the demand, cybersecurity vulnerabilities will continue. He said this is a great opportunity for WSU and the Wichita community.

“We are just starting as a University, trying to explore what we need to offer, the courses we need to offer, so this is an area we are going to continue to focus on and an area that is probably going to continue to grow,” Watkins said.

There are more than two dozen employers in Kansas that are in need of cybersecurity-trained workers, according to WSU. They include the Kansas Air National Guard, Koch Industries, NetApp and Boeing.

WSU said it will add two faculty members to support the new programs.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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