Boise State working to nurture next generation of cyber professionals

Posted at 12:46 PM, Aug 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 10:26:42-04

BOISE, Idaho — The cybersecurity industry is growing, according to a report from the Idaho Department of Labor.

With all that growth comes growing pain, mainly a need for people to fill all these new positions. As Idaho News 6 reported, the scarcity of skilled workers is growing more intense despite the amount of unemployment created by the pandemic.

Idaho's universities are working to help fill that gap through cybersecurity programs. Boise State University offers several cybersecurity options including camps for younger students and a cybersecurity program.

They also have a close partnership with the Idaho National Laboratory.

"They have a dedicated set of labs there on their campus in Idaho falls that we have access to through high-speed connections," explained Edward Vasko, director of the cybersecurity programs at BSU. "Our students will be able to use those labs so they not only get traditional cybersecurity training, but also highly critical cyber-physical training."

Dr. Sin Ming Loo, a professor in the program, explains there are a variety of jobs within cybersecurity--and part of his job is to help make sure his students are prepared for anything and everything.

The program at Boise State follows a "stackable" model, essentially allowing students to go for a standalone certificate with industry certification towards a bachelor's degree. The program also partners with industry professionals in order to give their students real-world lessons.

"The idea is to bring industry expertise into the classroom so the next generation of cyber-professionals can learn from them," said Dr. Loo.

For students like Sam Acker that are gearing up to graduate, it's a program that's set him up for success and allowed him to turn his passion into a career.

"It's like the ultimate puzzle, you have the thing you're trying to protect, and how would you go about going into it, and how can you keep the bad guys out of it. It's very challenging--very engaging," Acker said.