Tuskegee Launches New Cybersecurity-Focused Computer Engineering Degree

The new degree offering comes at a time when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were more than 209,000 cybersecurity jobs that went unfilled in 2016.

Beginning this fall, Tuskegee University students interested in careers in the computer engineering industry will have a new academic pathway to fulfilling their professional goals.

A new bachelor of science degree in computer engineering will focus on computer hardware design and cybersecurity engineering. The degree program, approved by the university’s Board of Trustees at its March 2018 meeting, is based in the newly renamed Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Dr. Heshmat Aglan, dean of the College of Engineering, noted that the baccalaureate program’s focus on cybersecurity engineering makes it a first of its kind among the nation’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Faculty teaching in the new degree program will be certified in cybersecurity areas that include Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), and Certified Information Privacy Professional/Government (CIPP/G) —among others.

“Our new computer engineering program positions Tuskegee University [a UNCF-member institution] in a unique niche to provide leadership in cybersecurity studies,” Aglan said. “Additionally, this program will provide the platform for us to expand into other emerging engineering specialties, including artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, machine learning, deep learning, autonomous vehicle technology, and embedded robotics.”

The new degree offering comes at a time when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were more than 209,000 cybersecurity jobs that went unfilled in 2016. The number of cybersecurity jobs is expected to grow tenfold during the next decade — more than any other occupation requiring a degree.

The new curriculum is the result of studies by a committee that reviewed the college’s current programs of study, as well as similar programs offered at public and private universities throughout the state and region. The committee included current Tuskegee faculty, two Tuskegee engineering alumni, and Dr. David Kaeli, a senior faculty member from Northeastern University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who provided the committee with an external perspective.

Besides incorporating existing electrical, computer science and mechanical engineering courses, the degree program includes 22 credit hours of new computer engineering courses. The addition of these courses also results in a new computer engineering minor available to computer science students, and a new computer science minor for electrical engineering students.

The committee’s research also revealed that Tuskegee’s intentions to keep enrollment in the program to about 25 students a year will leverage the university’s strengths in low student-to-faculty ratio, which currently is 14-to-1.

“Our students say time and again that one of Tuskegee’s greatest strengths is the personal attention our faculty provide our students,” said Dr. Tejinder Sara, the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Keeping enrollment in programs like our new computer engineering program low guarantees we can provide our students with a nurturing, academic environment rich in hands-on experiences.”

Click here for more information about the new computer engineering curriculum.

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