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RIC develops leading cybersecurity program

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Shawnna Forget

News Editor

Gov. Dan McKee and former Congressman Jim Langevin were on the Providence campus Monday to celebrate the launch of the Institute for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies.

School leaders and elected officials believe the program will train students to fill thousands of jobs in data protection in the Ocean State and beyond. The institute will help close the gap between unfilled cybersecurity jobs and the number of trained professionals needed to fill the positions.

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Courses for the program began at the start of the 2023-2024 academic year. The program began as an academic minor in 2020 and has been expanded to the bachelor's program. RIC will offer bachelor's degree programs in cybersecurity, computer science and computer information systems, as well as data analytics and web development minors.

Uniquely, RIC’s degree program is the first business-oriented undergraduate cybersecurity degree program in Rhode Island “because cybersecurity is ultimately a business problem,” says RIC Chair and Associate Professor of Computer Science Suzanne Mello-Stark. A business-focused degree will allow students to be better prepared for information analysis and equipped with knowledge of business practices to protect RI and beyond.

Langevin, named distinguished chair of the program, explains that students will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to excel in the modern digital age and learn the tools and techniques to protect and secure information from attacks. He emphasizes, “The training needed to fill these important job needs can’t come soon enough.”

Jennifer Easterly, the Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), credits Langevin for his contribution to creating cyber security policy and placing it at the forefront of his career goals. She explains the importance of the agency as a leader in the national effort to reduce the risks of cyber attacks on the infrastructure that Americans rely on for daily water supply, healthcare, transportation, communication, financial services, food and agriculture.

Individuals in America have accepted spam phone calls, the emergence of artificial intelligence, phishing and computer viruses as a norm, increasing the need for qualified professionals to help protect and establish proper security for large governing institutions and the individual.

McKee calls this a win for RIC students, the RI economy and national security. The demand for qualified professionals is high, while the number existing is low. There are 2,700 job openings in cybersecurity-related fields in RI alone, with 60,000 unfilled positions nationwide.

Starting in the fall of 2024, the college will offer a bachelor's degree in artificial intelligence that addresses the emergence of AI in business processes and the concerns with cybersecurity, privacy and ethical issues.



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