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Building a Cybersecurity Engineering Program? Begin by Cloning Your Computer Engineering Program

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Curricular Advancements in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Douglas W. Jacobson Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

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Doug Jacobson is a University Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. He is currently the director the Iowa State University Information Assurance Center, which has been recognized by the National Security Agency as a charter Center of Academic Excellence for Information Assurance Education. He teaches network security and information warfare and has written a textbook on network security. For a non-technical audience he co-authored a book on security literacy and has given numerous talks on security. His current funded research is targeted at developing robust countermeasures for network-based security exploits and large scale attack simulation environments and is the director of the Internet-Scale Event and Attack Generation Environment (ISEAGE) test bed project. He has given over 75 presentations in the area of computer security and has testified in front of the U.S. Senate committee of the Judiciary on security issues associated with peer-to-peer networking. He has served as an ABET program evaluator representing IEEE for five years. He is a Fellow of IEEE and received the IEEE Educational Activities Board Major Educational Innovation Award in 2012 for his work in teaching information assurance to students of all ages.

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Julie Ann Rursch Iowa State University

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Julie A. Rursch is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. Her focus is on secure and reliable computing. She has been an integral part of onboarding the B.S. in Cyber Security Engineering and the minor in Cyber Security Engineering.

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The nation is facing an increasing need for a workforce trained in elements of cyber security. The demand for workers in computer and information technology occupations is well-documented. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected a 12 percent growth in the number of job offerings from 2018 to 2028[1]. This is much faster than the average for all other occupations. And while this number is staggering and leaves us to wonder how to fill the gap of general technology workers, the growth expected in the more specialized information security subsector is projected at a whopping 32 percent growth during the same period[2]. Clearly, there is a need for colleges and universities nationwide to begin programs or fortify existing programs to produce graduates with cyber security skills. However, building a new major focused on cyber security engineering is a daunting task for any size institution, whether the largest public or the smallest private. As always, it behooves us as educators to make the most of existing resources. This is why we propose the best way to begin a cyber security engineering program is not to start from scratch, but to start with cloning your computer engineering program. Keep the best of your existing program that already fulfills the accreditation requirements, but build a solid cyber security core to compliment those technical computer engineering skills. Why should we clone the computer engineering program? A cyber security engineering program that has its foundation in computer engineering combines a strong engineering perspective, a solid knowledge of computers, and the core elements of cyber security. Engineers are problem-solvers at heart. And, there are no bigger problems that need robust solutions than security issues in cyberspace. From desktops to cell phones, from wired to wireless networks, from cyber physical to Internet of Things devices, cyber security engineers who have a solid background in computer engineering are well-positioned to tackle the security challenges of today and tomorrow. This paper will discuss the process we used to leverage the existing faculty, classrooms, courses, and knowledge to build our cyber security engineering degree. The focus of the paper will be on the design process of the design of the curriculum and the new cyber security core courses that were developed to provide those foundational elements of cyber security to the students. Specific topics addressed in the paper are: • How to take an existing program and with appropriate modifications, create a cyber security engineering program. • How to prepare for accreditation under the proposed criteria, as well as how to integrate with the current assessment process. • How we are using the current capstone experience to create multidisciplinary teams between computer engineers and cyber security engineers. • The current recruitment and outreach activities for our program and how you can build a pipeline starting in middle school. • Several co-curricular activities that help build a strong sense of community among the students and also provide a way for employers to interact with the students. Learning objective: Participants will be able to design a curriculum in cyber security engineering based upon their existing computer engineering program.

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[1] (2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook. Available: [2] (2019). Fastest Growing Occupations. Available:

Jacobson, D. W., & Rursch, J. A. (2020, June), Building a Cybersecurity Engineering Program? Begin by Cloning Your Computer Engineering Program Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34232

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