Rider unveils new cybersecurity bachelor’s program

By Tatyanna Carman

A new cybersecurity undergraduate program will be available at Rider in fall 2020, according to The Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Physics, John Bochanski.       

The new major will have two components: a technical and a policy track. The technical track has a lot of overlap between the computer science courses and the policy track is for people who are “not all that interested in coding and trying to figure out how all of these pieces fit together, but they want to run a large organization and make sure that people aren’t sitting around with post-it notes with their passwords stuck to their computer.” There are also a lot of courses that are offered in political science and homeland security that are within the policy track as well. Bochanski talked about the high student demand cybersecurity had from the university. 

“I would say maybe every other question [at the open house] or every third question, it’s ‘oh, I want to go into cybersecurity. Is this the major for me?’ And what I would say is that both the cybersecurity and computer science majors are both going to open up doors for people in terms of getting into their field. I expect a lot of double-majors to come out of the technical track plus the computer science major,” he said. 

He also talked about the employment aspect of choosing to create the program. 

“Not only is it high student demand, but employer-wise, it’s also in very high demand. Jobs in the cybersecurity field are one of the top choices out there. There’s a huge demand for it now. I really don’t think that’s going to go anywhere. At least anytime soon,” Bochanski said. 

The required courses for the cybersecurity core credits are introduction to cybersecurity, cybercrime and cyberterrorism, cyber ethics and societal impact and Computer Science I. Then there are different courses required for different tracks. For the technical track, students could take courses like hacking and penetration testing, software security engineering and analysis of algorithms. For the policy track, students could take courses like homeland security, terrorism and counter-terrorism and cyberspace law and policy. There will also be an internship program available to students for the major and independent study. 

Bochanski shared how cybersecurity is applied to real world situations and current events. 

“I was watching the Congress interview [of the] director of national intelligence today [who] talked about how there’s a cyberwar going on with Russia,” he said. “How cybersecurity issues leading into the next election — who we pick to be the leaders of this country — if that’s getting swayed by and it is getting swayed by communications online and we’re not sure if those are valid or not, that’s a big deal. So that’s just another way of informing our students and our university about what’s going on out there.” 

He also explained the predictions for how many cybersecurity majors there will be. 

“We’ve been averaging about 30 new computer science majors per year, which is not bad for a brand new program. I would expect numbers close to that. Maybe not the first year, but once we really get rolling here, I think we’re going to see a pretty healthy population of students.” 

Jacob Guevarra, junior computer science major, shared his thoughts on the new computer science-related programs at Rider. 

“I think it’s a great thing for Rider, implementing another computer-related program into its system. I was essentially the lab rat of computer science. It was introduced by freshman year and over time it started to become more of an active thing on campus,” Guevarra said. “More freshmen are starting to become majors in computer science. We just implemented a new game media and design major and now they’re implementing another cybersecurity major program here. So it’s nice to see Rider finally opening its doors to the technology field.” 

Guevarra also said that the major would add a lot of diversity in terms of the established science community that Rider’s built over time. He said he is glad to see the “computer science, interactive game and media design and cybersecurity starting to make an up and coming” at Rider. 

“The best part about the whole thing is when the students show up in that fall semester. You’ve just taken this thing that lived in a Google Drive folder for a long time and now there’s 20, 30 students sitting there, ready to do this. That’s the best part,” said Bochanski. “I can’t wait to greet our students next fall.” 

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