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A First In Cybersecurity

Washington DC Tech

George Mason University has two weeks before students arrive. Meantime, one professor is planning for the country’s first undergraduate cybersecurity engineering degree.


Engineering professor and program director Dr. Peggy Brouse says existing cybersecurity degrees focus on being reactive to current threats. This will be the first that focuses on building systems that are cyber resilient from the beginning. She consulted with tech companies like Northrop Grumman and Applied Systems Analytics on the curriculum and has approval to launch the full version of the 126-hour (rather than 120 hours) degree. Nearly 60 students are interested and will start engineering classes this fall toward the requirements even though the program doesn’t launch until spring.


The degree will not be housed at a department at Mason’s Volgenau School of Engineering but rather overseen by the dean of the school and draw professors from four departments. Peggy says it will be a challenge to set up vulnerability labs where students can work on real cybersecurity threats. It helps that Virginia’s current and previous governors have been pushing for the state to be a cybersecurity hub, and Peggy is already seeing interest from companies that want to create internships for students. (If Northeastern had this in 1999, Sean Fanning could've invented Napster and then prevented himself from releasing it all at one time.)