Boise State alumnus Eric Stevens, ’04, electrical engineering, said he didn’t think he had the background to study for his master’s in CORe. He was looking for a change in his career that would allow him to give back to his community while still using his engineering skills, but he worried he didn’t have enough experience or know-how.
Twenty years of “working in silicon” — engineering parlance for computer chips — first at IBM and then at Micron Technology, Inc., had put him adjacent to the coding side of electronic security, but as he explored CORe, he realized there’s an open tent flap for people approaching from the physical side of tech.
“It turns out cybersecurity does need electrical engineers,” Stevens said. “It needs people looking at processes, flow. Yes, we need good scripts and programs, but we also need to know what we’re monitoring. … People need to know that everybody has something that they could contribute. That’s actually the whole of what CORe is all about.”
Part of what attracted Stevens to cybersecurity was the intersection of his personal interests, habits of mind, and cyber as an emerging industry where, working with the right company and a little creativity, he could have more control over his career and responsibilities. As people live more in front of their screens, as more devices hook up to a network, those on the front lines have begun to see cybersecurity as less of a threat and more like challenges and possibilities.
“I spent 15 years getting very little sleep at night because of cybersecurity issues, but what keeps me up now is that I’m so excited,” said INL’s Wayne Austad. “I can’t get enough done during the day keeping up with opportunities with interns and university professors and innovators.”
In building Boise State’s new programs, Ed Vasko and Sin Ming Loo asked two questions: How can they meet Broncos where they are, and what are the demands of Idaho’s biggest players in cybersecurity? The answer can be summed up in a word, and that’s “experience.” Each student comes into these programs from somewhere, and brings their own passions and life direction to their studies. By partnering with companies and government organizations to design curricula, and offer student internships and employment, Boise State is combining people power with skill development and experience to address one of the most significant demands of our age.
“We need to step into the 21st century and recognize that we’re part of a larger community, and we need to produce an adaptive and innovative workforce to meet the needs, to protect the critical data and infrastructure of our 21st-century lives,” Vasko said.