Facebook partners with Texas A&M-San Antonio to offer cyber security courses
Texas A&M University-San Antonio announced Facebook’s Cyber Security University Program to provide university students a hybrid course in cyber security. Texas A&M-San Antonio is the only higher education institution in Texas and the ninth in the nation selected by Facebook.
After the 2017 presidential election, the issue of cyber security plagued the nation’s political scene but universities and tech giants are working together to educate future IT professionals through collaborations, internships and professional development opportunities.
The three-credit-hour hybrid course with Facebook began this fall 2018 semester. Only the top students who excel in this field will have the opportunity to apply for internships and scholarships with Facebook.
Dr. Akhtar Lodgher, chair of the Department of Computing and Cyber Security & Director for Information Technology, said this opportunity will provide students with real-world experience in order to be prepared in this field.
“The program will position Texas A&M-San Antonio as a prominent leader in the cyber security education community and provide students a variety of benefits, such as enhanced curriculum, mentorship opportunities, project development and hands-on training in combating simulated cyber attacks,” Lodgher said.
According to the San Antonio Business Journal, “the program also includes potential internships with Facebook and enables students to attend Facebook-sponsored security training and to interact with its employees.”
By observing professionals and receiving guidance, Texas A&M-San Antonio students will have the opportunity to gain knowledge and hands-on experience to be well equipped in the cyber security industry.
Among other universities selected for the program are University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Hofstra University, University of California San Bernardino, Mississippi State, St. Ambrose, Merritt College and City College of New York.
A neighboring university is also focusing on expanding their cyber security program. The San Antonio Express News recently reported that The University of Texas at San Antonio will be receiving $70 million from the state’s Permanent University Fund for the expansion of cyber security facilities.
On Wednesday, Aug. 29 Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, president of Texas A&M-San Antonio, spoke at the VIP press conference where Facebook representatives answered questions from the media and the Texas A&M-San Antonio community.
Matson said the Information Technology and Cyber Security Department has gained strength and numbers within the last years at the university. She mentioned the opening of the new 140,000-square-foot Science and Technology building that opened this fall 2018 semester. Currently, courses in Cyber Computer and Security, Cloud Computing and Student Security are given on the second floor.
Matson also added that Texas A&M-San Antonio was awarded its first National Science Foundation grant in the amount of $249,948 to be allocated between a three-year project period. The grant was awarded under the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Hispanic Serving Institutions which will begin on Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2021.
According to the NSF website these grants are awarded, “to enhance the quality of undergraduate STEM education at Hispanic-serving institutions…and to increase the retention and graduation rates of students pursuing associate or baccalaureate degree in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
Students throughout the campus are also anxious for the new partnership. Shortly after the VIP conference, Facebook held an information session about cyber security in the Central Academic Building for faculty and students.
“The Facebook Event was amazing. Learning about our partnership and course in association with them is an exciting opportunity for our students,” said David Ardin, senior information assurance cyber security major. “The partnership will not only help to excel our IT programs here, but it will also prepare our graduates with the skills necessary for a successful career in the IT field,” he said.