Cyber Engineering Degree (BS)
What is Cybersecurity Engineering?
Cybersecurity engineers incorporate electrical engineering and computer science to understand cyberspace, and they use skills developed in digital forensics, security policy, and network defense to perform cybersecurity tasks, as well as work on engineering hardware and software. Cybersecurity engineers design secure systems at the interface of operational technology and information technology.
The world needs 2 million cybersecurity professionals, and every small, medium and large business is dealing with cybersecurity issues. Some of these professionals, and some of these issues, require engineering solutions. Cyber engineering has been overlooked, or underdeveloped, in addressing the cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities among industrial control systems and other IoT networks and devices. Cybersecurity has a software/data/information component and may have, but most likely does not have, a hardware/device component. Cyber Engineers apply probability, statistics and cryptographic topics; specialized math; and engineering topics. Cybersecurity Engineers analyze and design complex devices that are likely to have hardware, software and human components.
Operational technology (OT) includes a wide variety of valves, pumps, meters, sensors, reactors, turbines, generators and other electro-mechanical devices. It includes a wide variety of process control systems and controllers for industrial processes. Such devices are prevalent in the energy and chemical and petroleum processing industries. But the healthcare industry also employs a wide variety of sensors, imaging devices, pumps, stimulators, robots and other electro-mechanical devices. The marine transportation industry, building construction and automation industry, and many, many others also employ such devices in order to accomplish routine business operations.
These devices, even those which have been maintained and operated for many years (perhaps decades), have in recent years been instrumented so that sensors can provide information back to human operators, and so that control signals can be sent back to the devices. In recent years, much of that process of information and control has been automated, and may employ data analytics and artificial intelligence to implement faster and safer systems. Collectively, the devices which are now connected to the internet and to each other may be referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The engineers who design these systems, and the information managers who monitor and protect the information, must work together to maintain security of operation and business continuity. Threats to safe operation may come from insiders (employees who create risk through negligence or ignorance, or employees who have malicious intent) or from outsiders (bad actors representing an opposing nation-state, or criminal organization, or small independent groups, or individuals). The threats may come in the form of malware, ransomware, viruses, or simply in the form of stolen information. The computer networks, databases, software and computer programs, data storage systems (cloud computing), and the individual workstations and computers, comprise the Information Technology (IT) for a company or organization. Every device that communicates digitally leaves an electronic record of some type, which requires terabytes, petabytes, exabytes, and soon, zetabytes, of data.
Personally, in homes and automobiles, for entertainment and fitness and recreation, wearable devices and intelligent communication devices are more and more common. It is estimated that by the year 2020, more than 20 billion connected devices will be in use around the world (for a population of less than 8 billion humans). In developed nations, it is quite possible that each person may account for up to 10 devices. This explosion of connected devices, the Internet of Things (IoT), leads to much greater cyber threats. The growth of devices and “interconnectedness” has been much faster than the growth of cybersecurity practices, awareness and defense.
Learning in the Cyber Engineering Program at HCU
Students in HCU’s Cyber Engineering program will enjoy learning in context, working together with classmates and professors to design and build real control systems which function like those that are commercially available, or industrially applicable. The first two years of the program provide fundamental knowledge and skills in mathematics (e.g. calculus, linear algebra, cryptography), physics, basic engineering and computer programming, with the opportunity to implement and demonstrate those skills in a sequence of projects. Additional concepts in electrical circuits and electronics, microprocessors, and computer systems in the second year help prepare students for more advanced subjects and projects in the upper levels. Students will learn from professors, and engage with industry partners. The professors in the College of Engineering act as advisors and mentors for the students, helping them to make wise course and curriculum decisions, as well as wise career decisions.
As students progress into the junior and senior year, they will learn important concepts in computer networks, security operations, and control systems. Students may choose from advanced elective courses in digital forensics and cyber crime, wireless and mobile security, reverse engineering, cryptography, distributed and cloud computing, data analytics, and blockchain. Every student will complete at least one internship before graduation, and every student will complete a major industry-driven project during the senior year.
Career Paths for Cyber Engineers
Graduates of the BS in Cyber Engineering are expected to seek and obtain high-demand jobs in energy, healthcare, marine transportation, and other industries. Any company or agency involved in critical infrastructure needs at least some engineers who understand both the operational technology and the information technology relevant to that organization. Graduates will work in security operations, process control, network security, threat reduction and incident response, and other cybersecurity-related positions. Some graduates will work to design the next generation of connected devices, so that better security measures can be built into the devices during design and production, before utilization and operation begins. Cybersecurity is one of the highest paying jobs in the computer science field.
Preparing to be a Professional
The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is one of the largest professional organizations in the world. IEEE organizes its members in “Societies,” which represent a particular type of industry, or a particular type of technology. HCU encourages its faculty and students to become members in a professional organization, and IEEE is one of the best. The College of Engineering will form a student chapter of IEEE to facilitate professional interactions for its students.
Here is the list of the many IEEE Societies, including a brief description of each.
Here is the IEEE news page – mostly news about the organization, but including the IEEE Spectrum magazine which contains news of broader interest.
Many resources are available to learn more about the Internet of Things. One site, WeLiveSecurity.com, offers news, views, and insight from the IoT security community. Here is a sample article about analyzing the security of your IoT devices.
Program Goals – Cyber Engineering
- Establish themselves as practicing Cyber Engineering professionals or engage in advanced study in a related or complementary area
- Engage in professional development in order to remain current in the field for enhanced understanding of current issues in Cyber Engineering
- Receive positive recognition and reward for the productive application of their skills and knowledge in service to God and humanity
Learning Outcomes – Cyber Engineering
- An ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics.
- An ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors.
- An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.
- An ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.
- An ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives.
- An ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions.
- An ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.
Cyber Engineering Degree Plan
Please see the Semester Schedule for a complete list of courses needed for the BS degree in Cyber Engineering, presented in an ideal, semester-by-semester schedule.
View Suggested Term-by-Term Schedule for Cyber Engineering: CYEN Pathways