Cybersecurity at Capitol: a story of innovation
Capitol celebrated fifteen years of its groundbreaking program in cybersecurity this month, honoring program founders at a special event at the McGowan Center on November 14.
Professors Charles Cayot and David Ward shared their recollections with attendees of the event. They also highlighted attributes of Capitol’s program which, in their view, continue to differentiate the university from its competitors.
“Our faculty is multifaceted,” Professor Ward said. “We have folks from the military, government and private sector – for all the major corporations that are involved in cybersecurity, we have had a member of our faculty, past or present, who has worked for them.”
Cybersecurity at Capitol dates back to 2001, when the university launched a master’s degree program in what was then known as network security. At the time, the subject was generally available at colleges and universities only as an elective, often as part of a computer science program.
Today, Capitol offers programs in cybersecurity at both the graduate and undergraduate level. The doctoral program, founded in 2010, was the first of its kind in the nation – and alumnus Dr. Jason Pittman, who is on the university faculty was the first person to earn a D.Sc. in the field.
Undergraduates can earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Cyber and Information Security, and a master’s degree in the same discipline is offered online. Capitol also operates a Cyber Lab, which provides opportunities to test cybersecurity skills in real-time scenarios, and students also have the opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary projects that combine expertise from several technology fields.
Capitol, Ward said, is “uniquely positioned” for the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) due to the combination of programs available at the university, as well as the school’s emphasis on collaborative learning.
“When you walk into this building [the McGowan Center], you’ll see evidence of the space program, the cyber lab, and robotics. Now, what is the Internet of Things? It’s all these machines and devices that are coming together," Ward said.
“At Capitol we have advanced engineering, advanced computer science, advanced cybersecurity, advanced radio frequency analysis – we’re already there. We already have this symbiotic relationship happening right in front of us.”
Professor Cayot, in his remarks at the event, said the Capitol program was innovative not only because of the field it covered, but also because it helped pioneer a new kind of educational experience: the virtual classroom.
“One thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that Capitol was one of the first schools in the country to provide live, synchronous online education. We even had to write code for the platform. When we started, we didn’t have Adobe Connect. We didn’t have Centra. It was Capitol, and we built that program,” he said.
Capitol president Dr. Michael T. Wood, academic dean Dr. Helen Barker and Dr. William Butler, chair of the cybersecurity program, also spoke at the event.
Photos: (1) Professor David Ward, (2) Professor Charles Cayot