University of Idaho College of Engineering Cybersecurity
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University of Idaho: Boundless opportunities for cybersecurity students

A computer science degree can open doors to a vast and exciting world of opportunities. Beyond realizing many job options, including software development, data science, cybersecurity, and artificial intelligence, it puts a graduate on the path toward a high-paying, highly-rewarding career. It’s an excellent investment in your future — and with all these benefits the real question is, where is the best place to get a degree in this field?  

At the University of Idaho (U of I) a degree in computer science or cybersecurity can certainly take you places. U of I is the only public university in the state to be ranked best value by Forbes, Money, and The Princeton Review and named No. 1 Best Value Public University in the West by US News and World Report three years running— but its impact is best shown in its student journeys. 

In 2020, Sam Grant, who belongs to the Native Alaskan Tlingit tribe, was an apprentice with an Alaska Native Cybersecurity company. “Peregrine Technical Solutions sought out Alaska Native high school students to take part in this program as a way to increase the number of Native Americans in STEM fields,” he says. “As such, I was the first youth registered Cybersecurity Apprentice in a program managed by the Department of Labor. I completed the apprenticeship in June of 2022. Shortly after starting my apprenticeship, U of I announced that they would offer Idaho’s first Cybersecurity bachelor’s degree program. It seemed like a natural fit for me to have a great Cybersecurity program close to home.” 

University of Idaho College of Engineering Cybersecurity

Source: University of Idaho

He’s now enjoying both his computer science and cybersecurity classes at U of I, picking up crucial soft skills along the way as well, such as time management, attention to detail and how to create an efficient workflow for projects. “I started a cybersecurity internship with SEL this year,” Grant says. “I plan on continuing this internship through graduation and then I hope to obtain a permanent position with SEL.” 

U of I is one of the few universities to participate in the CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service (SFS), a program that trains students to work as cybersecurity professionals and leaders at the federal, state, local and tribal levels. This scholarship covers tuition and fees, and undergraduate students receive a stipend of US $25,000 while earning their degrees. It is funded through the National Science Foundation.  

Isabel Hinkle is an SFS recipient who graduated in 2020 at U of I, studying computer science. She is making the most of her experience by taking part in the additional opportunities available. For instance, Hinkle spent the summer as an Idaho National Laboratory intern, where she worked on developing a cybersecurity-focused curriculum to help high school students build programming skills and a better understanding of cybersecurity concepts. “It’s important to introduce younger students to all the fun aspects of cybersecurity like capture the flag challenges and ethical hacking,” she says. “The younger generation is our future, so getting them interested in cybersecurity now and honing their skills early on is nothing but beneficial.” 

University of Idaho College of Engineering Cybersecurity

Source: University of Idaho

Hinkle hopes to take the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) PenTest+, which is a certification course for intermediate cybersecurity professionals. As CompTIA is a world leader in IT certification programs, the certification will boost her employability. “Hackers are very smart. It’s important to stay informed on all the latest and greatest cyber tricks and social engineering out there,” she adds.  

The U of I Vandals have been at the forefront of advanced cybersecurity training and education for more than 30 years. They were one of the National Security Agency’s first seven National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. What makes their programs unique is how customizable they are to the student’s interests. “It’s one of the best things about this field. You can specialize in whatever you want to,” says Sydney Petrehn, who graduated with a computer science degree in 2021 with a cybersecurity focus. “If you want to do crazy hacking stuff as you see in the movies, you can be a penetration tester or a software analyst. Or, if you want to work with analyzing data, there are data analyst jobs out there.” 

Petrehn worked as a Premier College Intern for the Air Force Civilian Service. Through daily briefings from senior leaders across the US and Europe, she learned a lot about the missions and goals of the Air Force. She aims to continue her training with cyber-related projects, competitions, and certificate programs. “When you’re talking about a field as vast as cybersecurity, it’s so important to make connections and get involved on campus,” says Petrehn. “The U of I has so many opportunities for students to explore and immerse themselves in the field. I guarantee you can find something that will help you feel confident and empowered in your ability and understanding of cybersecurity-related topics at U of I. The opportunities are endless.” 

To kickstart your cybersecurity journey at the University of Idaho, click here to apply now.  

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