Unlike many other universities, professors—not graduate students—teach all the general education, business, intelligence, computing, and the cyber security courses. CIS course sizes are relatively small (most have less than 24 students) and most are based on hands-on exercises so students have an active role in learning. There is also plenty of tutoring available in the Hazy Library tutoring center from upperclassmen. Professors also have at least 7.5-10 hours per week of office hours devoted solely to helping students with assignments or other problems. Advising is taken very seriously at Embry-Riddle. Academic advisor meets with students regularly to ensure they are on track to graduate in the expected timeframes. The department chair and faculty typically contact their advisees multiple times each semester to make sure they are doing well in their classes and are happy with their education as it relates to their future goals.
While no minor is required, many students like to develop skill sets in other areas. With good planning, many minors can be completed without taking more than the 120 credits required to graduate. Some popular minors include: Mandarin Chinese, Computer Science, Security & Intelligence Studies, Forensic Accounting & Fraud Examination, Accounting, Business Administration, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Students should work with the College Academic Advisor to see what is best for them.
Several of our CIS students are also in Air Force or Army ROTC. We're considered an ROTC friendly environment. However, completing the requirements for ROTC on top of a rigorous CIS Degree Program is challenging. It appears that time management may be the most important skill in this endeavor.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has a reputation for producing graduates that are ready to "hit the ground running" in the jobs they obtain. In addition, the CIS Department is located in the nation’s one and only College of Security and Intelligence with a unique environment and curriculum that is increasingly attractive to employers from both public and private sectors. Industry representatives are very satisfied with our hands-on curriculum which allows students to practice and verify theoretical methods. Unlike a majority of other cyber security education programs that have been developed from an existing computer science or engineering curriculum, our BS CIS curriculum has been developed from scratch with a central cyber focus spanning through the 4 years of the program. The curriculum includes emerging topics such as big data analytics, machine learning, aviation cyber security, cyber-physical system security, and blockchain as courses. Graduates of our program leave with the knowledge, skills, and the mindset needed to excel as the future defenders and leaders of cyberspace. Our CIS curriculum is also novel in emphasizing the development of communication and research skills. These skills also prove invaluable in postgraduate work.
Cyber intelligence and cyber security job salaries vary around the world due to location and the market. Salaries for students with a B.S. and some experience are usually around $70K and sometimes in the $80K-$90K range to start.
Both co-op and internship opportunities can help students gain employment once they graduate. You can list your internship as actual career experience on your resume and talk about what you learned during interviews. More importantly, cooperative educational experiences bring relevance to your education as you attend school. Multiple co-op and internship opportunities exist for Embry-Riddle CIS students.
The department continuously reaches out to industry based in the US, such as Boeing, Collins Aerospace, Honeywell Aerospace, and Symantec, to cement strategic partnerships that support student and program development. An example is creating state-of-the-art industry-relevant capstone design and research projects which our students and faculty can work on together with corporate liaisons. The department has an academic alliance with Juniper Networks Inc., one of the networking industry leaders, to gain free access to their cutting-edge networking and security training platforms for our students. The department is getting software and hardware donations, such as software from Symantec, for use in the Cyber Lab and use in CIS courses.
Almost twice a semester, the department hosts two well-known speakers in the community. Talks by these speakers are open to not only CIS students, but to the entire Prescott campus as well as to our university’s Daytona Beach and WorldWide campuses who join us over the Internet. Speakers in 2018-2019 have included the prolific “security guru” Bruce Schneier; Nina Vajda who is Honeywell Aerospace’s Chief Engineer for Cybersecurity; Peter Skaves who is FAA’s Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Avionics Cybersecurity; and, Greg Rice Collins Aerospace’s Cyber R&D Manager.
The sky is limit! CIS students are given opportunities to participate in national-level competitions, such as Aviation Information Sharing and Analysis Center (A-ISAC) Student Competition in 2018, attend premier conferences, such as RSA Conference College Day in 2019, and undergraduate research opportunities, such as URI-sponsored aviation cybersecurity research project in 2016 and a Capture-the-Flag high school competition development and organization effort in 2019.
CIS students have also formed cyber clubs, such as Cyber Defense Club, Ethical Hacking Club, C-SEC, and CyberEye. The Cyber Defense Club, for example, meets once per week, and sometimes during the weekend, in the Fall/Spring semester to engage in CIS related discussions and hands-on activities. In 2018-2019, this club has focused on participating in national-level cyber competitions, such as DOE’s CyberForce, MITRE CTF, National Cyber League, and National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. Furthermore, the Cyber Lab and the upcoming Prescott Cyberwarfare Range offer additional opportunities for CIS students to engage in extra-curricular hands-on learning.
In 2018-2019, there are 4 full-time faculty members in the CIS department. In addition, we have a visiting faculty member from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and three adjuncts from the industry. Furthermore, we have affiliated faculty members from other departments on campus to teach computing, business, intelligence, and general education courses.
The BS CIS program is interdisciplinary in nature and the curriculum we offer is in accordance with national-level cyber education guidelines. In addition, employers want graduates with multi-disciplinary skills. They allow you to reason and defend your arguments with a sufficient level of technical rigor as well as interact meaningfully with a team of people with different backgrounds such as engineering, math, or pure sciences.
Computers that need to secured are becoming more and more physically capable, such as computers connected to cars and aircraft. These are precursors of a digital future where Cyber-Physical Systems are as pervasive as smart phones are today. Hence, understanding physics is a core knowledge unit for CIS students. In addition, physics advances have been central to cyber security, some examples including: quantum resistant cryptography that NSA and NIST recognize as an urgent need to protect systems vulnerable to quantum computing; use of statistical mechanics for modeling malware propagation and building secure systems; and, cyberattacks based in electromagnetic effects such as electromagnetic pulses that damage enemy cyber systems.
But, you may wonder where are all those partial derivatives and gradients from Math courses going to come handy? What if your future job is to secure the Mars lander or some other autonomous system here on Earth, and one task is for you to establish how to secure GPS by analyzing the system’s trajectory using partial derivatives and gradients? What if you were to design an algorithm to solve a security problem and need to analyze it? What if you need to analyze a computer image for threats? Linear algebra, calculus, and discrete math, in general, play a foundational role in these tasks.
Machine learning, and data science, in general—a growing skillset for cyber security jobs—relies on the heavy use of statistics, which in turns relies on calculus and probability. Threat intelligence data sets are on the rise, hence the necessity for new analysis tools as well as analysts who know probability/statistics are on the rise too! Business and accounting skills are critical for your daily professional life—from developing business cases for your security ideas to managing security projects to investigating cybercrimes.