Boise State University wants to provide cybersecurity resources to rural organizations while training future industry professionals.
Cyberdome goes beyond other cybersecurity degree programs by allowing students to gain real-world experience, working with customers and companies such as PlexTrac before entering the labor market.
There are more than 500,000 cybersecurity job offersbut most entry-level positions require two to three years of experience in addition to a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Ed Vasko, director of the Institute for Pervasive Cybersecurity, began teaching in 2020 after more than 30 years of experience in cybersecurity. He sought to build a center like the Cyberdome to equip students with the skills required to enter the cybersecurity workforce. Vasko said students rarely have the opportunity to apply their skills with customers in real time.
The Cyberdome is also beneficial for rural customers who lack the cybersecurity capability of their peers in metropolitan areas like Seattle. Rural areas may be more susceptible to attack given the lack of access to resources.
“We’re not just giving our students real-world experience, we’re helping our rural communities stop being the weakest link in the chain,” Vasko said.
Cyberdome is not just for penetration testers and other highly technical students. Governance, Risk, and Compliance students also have the opportunity to engage with clients through hands-on experience conducting risk assessments and audits.
The Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission Higher Education Research Council granted the Cyberdome $2.1 million, or $700,000 per year over three years, to support the program. The Idaho Workforce Development Council also provided $267,000 per year for three years to fund stipends for 50-60 students.
Other universities in the Pacific Northwest are also funding new cybersecurity education programs. Washington State University and Eastern Washington University recently landed more than $2 million each from the state’s 2022 Supplementary Operating Budget to create related degree programs.