UNG continues to grow as a leader in cybersecurity

The influence of the University of North Georgia (UNG) as a leader in cybersecurity education can be highlighted by a series of accolades and recent developments.

These efforts are critical given the more than 464,000 cyber jobs open across the country, including 17,000 in Georgia. In the fall of 2021, three years after the first offer of the bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, 390 students are enrolled in the program.

“It’s amazing how much demand there is in the industry and how many students are interested,” said Dr Bryson Payne, professor of cybersecurity in 1997 and 99.

The UNG launched the Institute for Cyber ​​Operations with a budget commitment of more than $ 4 million over three years from the US Department of Defense (DOD).

Retired Colonel Christopher Mitchiner, 1991, executive director of the institute, develops UNG’s links with the cybersecurity industry and provides students with professional development opportunities. The institute, a college-wide initiative based at the Mike Cottrell College of Business, also funds cyber certifications for students.

“It sets our students apart,” Payne said. “They can get industry certification while they’re still a student.”

Other recent developments have also shown the cybernetic leadership of UNG.

  • UNG is spearheading the CyberStart America effort in Georgia, which began on October 27 and runs through April 27. The program offers a free online, learning-as-you-go game designed to help high school students explore cybersecurity and compete for college scholarships. in cyber studies. Over 3,330 Georgian students from 190 schools are participating this year, an increase of over 2,450 students and 107 schools from the 2020-21 event, and students can win cash prizes. Districts still have a chance to earn money to support e-education if they get more students enrolled by December 31. Caitlin Conneely is the cyber program leader who champions the initiative, and Dr. Lindsay Linsky of the College of Education has been instrumental in the success of the program.
  • In the summer of 2022, the UNG will host its sixth GenCyber ​​Warrior Academy for high school students and its second cyber academy for middle and high school teachers with grants from the National Security Agency (NSA) totaling $ 265,000. Due to the new program format, students and teachers will lock in their learning more, as the pre and post camp activities will give them 10 months of training starting in January 2022.
  • The UNG has one DOD Cyber ​​Scholarship recipient for 2021-2022, giving it a total of nine such scholarships received by UNG students over a four-year period.
  • Payne will be one of the coaches and student Taylor Hitt is one of 25 squad members of the first US cyber team to compete in Greece in June 2022.

In addition, Payne received a major award from a company specializing in cybersecurity training and certification. Payne is the only recipient of the 2021 Academic Instructor of the Year Honor from the EC-Council.

The award is based on a combination of student feedback, assessments from the European Council, promoting growth opportunities for students and faculty, and maintaining cybersecurity certifications. In the fall of 2019, Payne achieved Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) in the area of ​​reverse engineered malware (GREM). Only 4,360 cyberprofessionals in the world hold this certification. He also holds the GIAC Certified Penetration Tester certification, and approximately 9,000 professionals have it.

Payne is the Cybersecurity Student Programs Coordinator and coaches the UNG CyberHawks team which won two NSA Codebreaker Challenge victories. The group also had strong performances in competitions such as the NSA Cyber ​​Exercise and Cyber ​​FastTrack.


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