University of Delaware

Online M.S. in Cybersecurity Infosession

Video Transcript

JON HYMES: Welcome to the University of Delaware. I'm glad to have you on campus with us virtually to discuss our online Master's of Science in Cybersecurity program. We'll be getting started just shortly, giving the last few attendees just another few minutes to log in and get settled. Again, thank you for your attendance. We'll get started in just a minute or two.

Hello, everybody. Welcome again to the University of Delaware. We're going to get started this evening with our open house event and discuss the Online Master's of Science in Cybersecurity program.

We have a busy agenda this evening, including guest speakers. So let's get right into it. In the meantime, I'd like to hear from you via chat, as displayed on the screen. This is going to be your way to connect with us and our guests and ask real questions of us throughout the event.

Let's hear from where you are in the meantime. Please text in your state abbreviation. We can get an idea the diversity of the group tonight.

Excellent. Good. So I already see right off the bat some students from outside of the state immediately-- Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, New York. There we go. Now a lot of in-state students-- quite a few in Delaware, of course.

More in the Midwest, good. I see a couple in California now, couple more coming in, very good, a good example of be diversity and location, the different types of students that you'd expect to see in an online class with us.

This will be your portal, again, to ask questions throughout the event. Some of those questions we may table to the end. Others we may be able to address, just depending on where we are in the presentation. So again, feel free to type in those questions as they come up, and we'll get to them as soon as we can.

Tonight, we're going to introduce our department chair and program director, learn about the university itself, and then dive into the actual programmatic information regarding the online MS in Cybersecurity program. We'll, of course, be taking questions in real time. I'll address them as they come in. So again, feel free to jot them down so that we can get to them.

My name is Jon. I'm the admissions counselor. I've been in higher education now for over seven years. I work with students just like yourself all the way through the admissions process and in the class. I've completed my master's online, as well, after already going through a traditional campus undergraduate program. So I can speak to those differences and those expectations.

Our first guest this evening is Dr. Ken Barner. He's our professor and chair of the department. Dr. Barner's worked in many areas of the industry, from big data to machine learning-- now not only serves as the chair, but again, teaches in the program. Current research involves information processing and human computer interactions. Hi, Dr. Barner. How are you this evening?

KENNETH BARNER: Very good, glad to be with everyone.

JON HYMES: Certainly. Thanks so much for joining us. Can you detail some more of your current research?

KENNETH BARNER: Sure. So I've been with the University of Delaware since 1998. My work is in the general area of signal processing. I started off looking at robust signal processing for environments that are non-Gaussian and dominated by or characterized by heavy-tailed distributions-- so your typical sort of black swan scenarios that you hear about now often in the news.

I currently work in the area of machine learning and classification, detection, and estimation. So a lot of my work focuses on big data sets-- so sort of large data-- and looking at cases where sparse signal processing can come into play where the information really of interest is in a small subset of a much larger data set.

JON HYMES: Excellent. Perfect-- makes sense. We're, again, glad to have you with us this evening-- look forward to your insight.

Our next guest is our cybersecurity expert and, as well, professor in the program, Dr. Chase Cotton. He, as well, has had extensive experience in his career and in his research within the industry prior to joining the university.

He's served in several roles for the school-- director, scientist, professor-- specializing within several technologies. Hi, Dr. Cotton. Thanks for joining us. How are you?

CHASE COTTON: I'm doing good. Welcome, everybody.

JON HYMES: Can you, as well, add some thoughts on your research and your tenure with the school?

CHASE COTTON: Sure. Actually, I'm more of a longtime industry person. I actually did my Ph.D. here way too long ago, and then went out and did industrial research for about a decade, and then spent most of my career bringing up large internet companies around the world. I returned here to Delaware in 2008.

And I'm mainly a computer software person and a computer networking person. And so a lot of my work follows from my industry work in making large networks. But a lot of the work since probably 2008 has increasingly transitioned to the security aspects of computer and networking. And it's caused a lot of the different activities we have spun up since then here in cybersecurity research.

JON HYMES: Definitely, absolutely. Good. Again, I appreciate your time this evening.

Now I would like to share a little background about our school. Many of you, I know, don't live in this immediate mid-Atlantic region. But UD is one of the oldest and most recognized institutions in the nation. We founded in 1743.

The school and programs are fully accredited, and the overall size of the school's moderate-- just over 20,000 in total enrollment with top rankings from Forbes and the US News, the UD name is both nationally recognized and highly sought-after. Dr. Barner, as chair, can you provide some more insights into the school, as well?

KENNETH BARNER: Sure. I can give you some insights into the department in particular. So the department has about 500 students counting undergraduate and graduate students, about 300 to 400 undergraduates, and over 200 graduate students.

We offer accredited degrees at the undergraduate level in electrical engineering, computer engineering. We have a [AUDIO OUT] pretty minor. And at the graduate level, we offer MS and Ph.D. degrees, as well as the MS degree in cybersecurity.

JON HYMES: Perfect. [INAUDIBLE], nothing new here for us. Looking at the department overall, that fiber itself is housed under-- you can see the relevant focus on topics like signal processing and digital communications. The department has state-of-the-art facilities with research budgets over $10 million. Dr. Barner, can you describe how these focus areas are relevant to our students, given the demands on today's systems and products?

KENNETH BARNER: Sure. So we have a signal processing, communications, and controls group-- I'm a member of that group in particular-- that focuses on processing of information, communications, machine learning, and all aspects that are related to algorithms. Then we have our computer engineering group, which Dr. Cotton is in, that focuses on cybersecurity, networking, high-performance computing, high-level architectures and such.

And then we have our nanoelectronics and photonics group, which does nanofabrication-related kinds of things, photonics-- kind of the physics side of the house. And then we have some faculty and projects that cut across the biomedical engineering area, looking at biomedical problems that are being addressed with sort of ECE fundamentals and principles.

And so the cybersecurity really cuts across a number of these. It involves algorithms and, of course, how you process data, how you find anomalies in data, as well as directly in the computing engineering area, the networking aspects looking specifically at forensics and, of course, encryption, which also cuts across both the signals area and the computer area.

JON HYMES: Definitely. Yep, very relevant. And notice the key partnerships, as well-- so with the United States Army at APG, Aberdeen Proving Ground-- big military base in Maryland-- and specifically the large financial hub housed in Delaware. We have over a million legal corporations here and a large financial industry, and a specific key partnership with one of the largest banks there in JP Morgan Chase. Dr. Cotton, can you discuss those partnerships and what we're specifically doing with some cyber [INAUDIBLE] on site for them?

CHASE COTTON: Sure. About-- now I don't know how many-- about three or four years ago, the Army moved one of their major development organizations from northern New Jersey to here, just south of the University onto the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. And it's a pretty substantial group of folks-- basically about 10,000 scientists and engineers, but I think it's actually larger now.

And they align very much with us in many of the fields you study in computer and electrical engineering. In fact, right at the moment, they, like everyone else, has a keen interest in cybersecurity. And while they have their own specialists-- actually, people who probably could teach me stuff-- they have a lot of other people in the business who are preparing weapons systems and maintaining databases and doing other things.

So we're currently teaching a three-course cybersecurity certificate program at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds. In fact, I'm there most Wednesday nights teaching.

And then as you mentioned, just north of us in Wilmington, it's the center of a lot of the financial service industries for most of the large banks. And one in particular, JP Morgan Chase, has adopted Delaware as a key support university.

And they have in addition to their corporate facilities here in the state, in northern Delaware, they have a facility here on campus where they have people who are supporting university programs. And they do a great deal of work with the students here, and also interested in cyber.

JON HYMES: Definitely. Yeah, it's very relevant. And those are the courses that our online students are able to take directly in the program, too. Just given the relevance of them attracted a lot of attention. You can see that in the rankings, too-- high rankings from US News & World Report.

To explore the different areas of research within the department, we've listed several that include our professors that also teach in the online program. Dr. Cotton, can you speak to the research being conducted by the faculty who teach online, such as Professor Wang?

CHASE COTTON: Sure. As you can see, if you look at the organizations that these folks are attached to, it's not just our department. They're also in computer and information sciences, mathematics, in the business school, et cetera.

Cyber-- the aspects that we really need to know about various issues and computer and network security now have gone very broad. And it's not just necessarily technical details. It can be business issues, et cetera.

We just recently hired a really fabulous research professor named Dr. Haining Wang. He's come in from William & Mary, and has been with us almost two years now. And he does some really interesting work. You may, if you're following cyber at all, hear of a term call side-channel attack.

It turns out that most devices and systems leak information. If you listen to the computer, if you listen to the laptop on your desktop when it's working hard, you can hear its fan turn on. It turns out that in certain circumstances, you can actually infer what the computer's doing by these side channels.

And that's what a lot of Dr. Wang's research centers around. He's also recently gotten a large DOE grant to look at green issues and running data centers in a green matter, where they're energy-efficient.

JON HYMES: Excellent. Perfect. Yeah, very relevant work. I know it's really evolved, too, over the last five to 10 years from just information assurance and computer and networking security. Can you kind of discuss some of those changes and research that you've seen and how that continues to evolve?

CHASE COTTON: Yeah. A lot of these folks-- we're all wear multiple hats. A lot of the people on this page worked within the program to develop the long list of courses that are now part of the cyber program.

And if you kind of look at the way we've taught cyber over the years, and you mentioned this early on, I kind of view us in the third generation of cybersecurity education. The kind of the first generation was often referred to as information assurance.

It was, how do I quantify what I own and what I value? And how do I protect it, at least from a paper standpoint? And that worked for a while.

And then cyber became a lot more offensive in nature in the sense that the bad guys were actually starting to attack us and do bad things to us. The kind of the second generation of security education we called computer and network security, CNS. And it increasingly taught subjects like firewalls and things-- the tools that a security person would need to protect their enterprises.

And we now have transitioned mainly, if no other reason than for marketing purposes, to the word that most people use for computer network security, and that's cybersecurity. But more importantly, what we teach and how we teach it has made yet another advancement now.

Before, you might have read a lot of textbooks and occasionally done a lab and saw how some piece of software worked in a security domain. And now, pretty much all of our course offerings are very hands-on and technology-oriented so that the students spend a lot of time honing skills on how things actually work.

JON HYMES: Exactly-- yep, very relevant, hands-on. It's a big difference in this degree is going to be its technicality. As you can see here, that the university-- the program is designated by the NSA in cybersecurity within cyber defense education. So this highly sought-after designation really is a result of that technicality-- the program's emphasis on the actual design of software and systems, not just the support of them-- what you'll see in an IT degree. For those unfamiliar, Dr. Cotton, what does it mean to be NSA-certified?

CHASE COTTON: As we have all companies and organizations have come to grips with what our attackers are doing and how to defend against them, many, many organizations have adopted a kind of organizational principles of what they should do to keep themselves as safe as possible. We call these frameworks.

One of the things that came out of a presidential executive order a few years ago was for the national standards organization in the United States to create a cybersecurity framework. And basically, having an educational program that treats and educates everybody on what those principles are that make up the framework is a lot of how you get to be certified by the NSA and the DHS as a National Center of Academic Excellence.

JON HYMES: Excellent. Perfect. Yeah, and a big differentiator, especially for those targeting the positions within the government-- typically, something that you're going to want to have. Dr. Cotton, can you discuss the difference between this program and the other cyber programs more focused on, say, IT security?

CHASE COTTON: Well, it's back to what I said about kind of the first generation, which was called information assurance. In many cases, each of these fields are quite large. So to be in a position to be an excellent IT person, you need to know skills that you may not need to know at the same level of deft as a security person, and vice versa.

But right now, we find ourself in a situation where because the impact of security issues are pretty much hitting every organization and in government, commercial, et cetera, we're kind of in a situation where we're behind the curve in having people that have some of these skills to help their parent organizations keep themselves safe. It's really more an issue of teaching things that we don't have a lot of people learning right now.

So there's a big uptick in trying to get that information out to a new generation of employees. And this is for not just the people who work as security professionals, but it's also for the rank-and-file engineer and computer scientist who's going to build boxes to put in consumers' hands because they need to know this same security information so their boxes are safe so their customer base doesn't get mad at them if they get broken into.

JON HYMES: Right. Ideally, stay one step ahead if you can. So looking at things like the Cybersecurity Institute, really what the foundation was built on. Can you elaborate a little more on its relevance and really competitive nature in the industry?

CHASE COTTON: Right. What we've been talking about is education. And we talked a little bit about research. The institute kind of builds a three-legged stool.

Again, we're pretty far down the road getting our educational program up. And likewise, we are continuing to build up our research capabilities by hiring and attracting good research professionals. And many of us do double duty and wear both of those hats.

Security is probably 50%-- if you look at students and where they go, probably about 50% of them go off into private industry, work building some device that's otherwise they want it to be secure, or maybe they're in the security business itself. And about half of them probably go to work in some part of the government.

JON HYMES: Makes sense, certainly. Good. Dr. Barner, can you discuss a little bit about the location of Delaware and the department and—

CHASE COTTON: Various departments?

JON HYMES: --online groups?

CHASE COTTON: What's that?

KENNETH BARNER: Sure. So the university is located in northern Delaware. And that places us about two hours south of New York, an hour south of Philadelphia, an hour north of Baltimore, and two hours north of Washington. So we're really in the heart of the Northeast Corridor.

And as we mentioned before, there's both a lot of security work and a lot of financial industry, as well as other related industries in this high-density area. And that gives us the opportunity to collaborate [AUDIO OUT] for instance, Aberdeen, which is just south of us here, as well as other security-focused entities in DoD and elsewhere that are largely south the financial industry, which is in Delaware as well as New York.

So it puts the university in a very good physical location to build these collaborations. And that's how we've been able to establish some of these key partnerships.

JON HYMES: Excellent. Yep, still very relevant. And even students in the area or those wishing to come to campus, you still have all the resources here. You don't have to come. But if you want to take advantage of those things, you certainly could. And it's taught by the same professors who teach on the campus-- that they're helping you to learn and reinforce topics run in virtual machine environments through hands-on learning.

Let's take a look at the curriculum, another differentiator with this program. We can dive into more how this curriculum is going to set this degree apart from another IT security degree.

And so looking at these 10 courses, these are the courses you would take. They are done one at a time. These are meant to be run concurrently with a full-time working schedule.

That would take you two years if you were to take no breaks and do them one at a time. Dr. Cotton, can you highlight some of these courses which you consider key and of particular interest to students?

CHASE COTTON: Right. As I mentioned, because we wanted the program to be compliant with all the recommended coverage of knowledges that DHS and NSA wanted the industry to have, we were able to pretty much craft this program from the ground up as new courses. And so each is designed to cover a different independent section of the field of computer and network security.

The great majority of them are hands-on and either taught by faculty here, or in some cases, we have industry adjuncts works that are coming in and sharing their expertise with us. And it gives you basically a mix of the actual nuts and bolts of what cybersecurity or computer and network security is, including very good hands-on experiences, as well as a set of engineering courses that are more focused on building systems and software so you can apply those, that knowledge and those principles of cybersecurity, to those actual engineering problems. That's the [AUDIO OUT] course is like the smart grid and computer networks and search and data mining.

JON HYMES: Perfect. And just looking over some of our questions, I know we have some engineers on the line, some who particularly work with industrial controls. How might some courses that we offer here differ in that industry IT-wise versus a true security in a cyber program for industrial controls?

CHASE COTTON: One of the courses that-- we've got a couple courses that have yet to come up in the program. But one of the last courses we will bring up will be a course in industrial control systems-- what we in the industry call SCADA. These are the little dedicated computers that run our manufacturing plants and our generation stations and our electrical transport operations.

And those are not taught very often. They're increasingly important in our world because many of the major infrastructure platforms that exist in the country that keeps us all happy and drinking water and being able to read with lights at night is all based on that technology. It's not likely you would see a class like that in a normal IT or computer and information science program.

JON HYMES: Exactly. Thank you. Can you cover maybe, for example, one of your classes how a student might expect to be assessed-- is given a particular project in a week, what they might expect to be doing?

CHASE COTTON: So as I said, these classes tend to be very hands-on. So about a half the class will be on theory. We'll teach the students-- I'll introduce them to a subject.

Right now, I'm teaching a class at the Army on system hardening and protection. The short name for that class is Defense. And so I have been introducing the students over the last week into how we would take a particular operating system and basically make it harder so it's less susceptible to be successfully attacked by a bad guy.

And so in the class we had this week, we spent the class hardening a modern Ubuntu Linux system, going through various steps that you would use when you brought up a system to do something in your enterprise-- maybe it's your online e-commerce system. And so they not only learn what they have to do, they then do it on real systems in class that actually live on their own laptops.

So they don't need to go to a lab somewhere. The lab is actually in the computer that they carry around, or in the case of an online student, a computer that's sitting on your desk at home.

JON HYMES: Excellent. Perfect-- so things like virtual machine environments. How long do you think a student might expect to spend in a given week, just on average, doing an assignment like that?

CHASE COTTON: Well, the whole week, probably at a minimum about 10 hours between the reading and listening to, in effect, video clips of the instructor lecturing or maybe going through demonstrations. And then the actual work in the case of these hands-on exercises-- I call them practicals-- that can take several hours to get through those.

JON HYMES: OK. So a good rule of thumb-- maybe 15 to 20 hours a week, give or take, just kind of depending on the student and the project?

CHASE COTTON: Very much depends on the class.

JON HYMES: Perfect. Have you ever had opportunities where online students were able to get involved still with research with faculty?

CHASE COTTON: Not yet. I do a lot of face-to-face. I use video conferencing with my students when they need particular help on particular items. And a lot of the online courses, we encourage the groups of students in class with each other to reach out to each other and ask questions.

And in some cases, there's an issue with some installation that somebody's caught and somebody else can't get whatever the magic secret sauce is. And so the students a lot of time will interact with one another.

And then sometimes, I'll jump in and fix the problem, as well. So it's not that it's not inconceivable, but we just haven't done it yet. A lot of that online interaction, and especially in cybersecurity, has to do with looking at what's going on in the world on a day-to-day basis.

Cybersecurity has got something new happening every day. So a lot of that online discussion is about who got broken into this week and what did they do wrong and what are the best practices [INAUDIBLE] that if it was in your organization.

JON HYMES: Excellent. Perfect. Let's discuss some of the end results and really goals that students will have in earning an MS degree beyond, of course, just the credentials and, of course, skills developed. Graduates will be able to compete in one of the fastest-growing careers in the country. Dr. Cotton, can you speak to some of the common outcomes you see students have in earning an MS degree like this in terms of positions they'll usually apply for after graduation?

CHASE COTTON: Right. I'm actually quite encouraged by the placement of some of our graduates. What I'm hearing-- they actually-- we keep in touch, and they get back to me. And they feed back things like, you taught us this stuff that was very important, you need to teach us more of this thing that you didn't touch on. So we're continually try to evolve the program to meet the needs of what effectively becomes our eventual customers.

I know that in many cases, students who are not necessarily in a security program but have taken some security courses are getting callbacks for interviews that they otherwise wouldn't have gotten. So like I said, it's a good resume builder, even if you're just going to be an engineer who's going to build the next generation of mobile phones.

JON HYMES: Definitely. Even looking at the Amazon Fire Phone-- that was released without cryptography. A major company completely overlooked one of the most major aspects of security on a mobile device. So the demand is certainly there.

CHASE COTTON: The [INAUDIBLE] feedback fixes those things.

[CHUCKLING]

JON HYMES: Can you speak to some end results? Like are students ever planning to post-graduation to prepare to sit for other outside industry certificates, or do they after completing a degree like this?

CHASE COTTON: I think we're doing a pretty good job. Several of my students have come back after doing internships for the summer and said that their summer employer said they could sit for a particular industry test.

And they were telling me that the courses that they had taken from us had done really well in preparing them-- not 100%, because we're not trying to teach to a particular certificate. But they said a great deal of what they needed to study for to pass the test was being covered in our classes.

One of my students in the Army who actually has a reasonable background in security in his history got excited about it, went out and bought a textbook, an advanced-- not so much a textbook, but an advanced industry book on topics that we weren't necessarily covering in class. And as he looked through the book, he realized that we were actually covering a lot of the stuff that he was finding in his book-- not 100%. But maybe 20% or 30% of what he needed to learn in this book he just purchased, we actually were touching on them in class.

JON HYMES: Interesting. Good. Yeah, yeah-- very, very relevant. Dr. Barner, can you go over some of the more recent growth in the industry and how you see it versus sustaining and further evolving? [INAUDIBLE] industry dynamics?

KENNETH BARNER: Sure. All you have to do is open the newspaper, look at any of the government studies or any of those employment agencies, and you'll see that there are literally hundreds of thousands of jobs that require these kinds of skills that are going unfilled.

So as Dr. Cotton said, it fills an array of needs, whether you're directly working 100% in the security discipline or whether you're a practicing engineer that needs to have the relevant skills because security intersects what you're doing, which is virtually the case for anyone. Whether you're working on the SCADA systems or the communications protocols or the next generation of a particular phone, as was mentioned previously, having this kind of background and skills is critical to the success of those operations.

So again, you can just open up the newspaper and see that the critical calls from the government and other agencies that are clearly highlighting the large number-- I mean, hundreds of thousands of jobs-- that are looking for people with these kinds of skills.

JON HYMES: [INAUDIBLE] and everything continues to evolve and to-- well, we don't quite know-- with autopilot features on vehicles, with semi-autonomous, fully autonomous features, so much of our data being supported in cloud-based saves. We know there's the need for security, too, but when and where it comes up-- just part of that evolution.

Let's take a look at our expectations of students coming in for admission. We look for a minimum of a 3.0 GPA from a bachelor's degree in relevant fields, like we mentioned-- computer science, engineering, math or physics-- what consider STEM programs.

However, we have had students with other degrees and industry work experience who have gained admission. So please don't assume [INAUDIBLE] going to be unqualified for the program. Anything either of you can add or emphasize to students that you see coming in with different backgrounds?

KENNETH BARNER: I'll say that we do see students often coming into the program that may have had a bachelor's degree, some [AUDIO OUT] and their career may have sort of morphed them or moved into a different area than they originally studied for as an undergraduate. And that's perfectly fine. And they may be in a position where they want to get some more rigorous training and advanced skills in this area.

So many times, we see people from diverse backgrounds that are not directly-- most what would come to mind is the most related engineering disciplines. So that is certainly a career path that and a path through the program that should be discussed on a case-by-case basis.

So I echo your points on making-- shouldn't assume that your background is not the appropriate one. Or if you're looking to change into a more dynamic area and you're working in a different discipline or a related discipline, again, this is an opportunity to acquire those in-demand skills that allow you to make that change.

JON HYMES: Correct. And it's a very sharing network. I think Dr. Cotton alluded to it previously, as well, and how students have gone out and gotten books to brush up in certain areas or collaborated with other professionals [INAUDIBLE] APG. It's a very learning culture, too, where being able to reach out and learn something new isn't necessarily always having to go back and take official college credit to get up to speed.

To apply, this is what will be required of you to enter for the online application. If you follow the little link at the top or speak with an admissions counselor, we can send it out via email. You'll need to have unofficial transcripts. Now, these can be opened or even PDF-- web versions of transcripts-- for admissibility's sake.

Those are uploaded directly onto the application itself, as are letters of recommendation. We'll need three professional letters. We do look at a copy of your resume, and then as well a personal statement, an essay about yourself-- your backgrounds, your goals within the industry-- those, as well, all added as Word documents or PDF documents.

Now, regarding the GRE, it is a requirement of the program. Some may be able to waive it. Most will have taken the test or are preparing to take the test now. For waivers, we're looking back, again, for those STEM programs, specifically success over a 3.5 GPA if using-- wave the GRE.

Now, some students may have already completed some graduate school. Others have industry certificates or licensure of those who work, as well. Dr. Cotton, can you speak to some of the types of certificates that might be used there in lieu of the GRE?

CHASE COTTON: Yeah. In the cybersecurity program, there's a series of at least half a dozen and some even probably a dozen more certificates that if you're in IT or IA or in computer and network security in the industry, you may have already studied and passed those certificates. And typically, if a student, applying student, has passed one of those certificates, we'll typically accept it in lieu of the GRE.

JON HYMES: That makes sense. And that's what admissions counselors are here for. We can speak those details with students individually.

Let's move into our question and answer session. Now, I've reviewed some of the questions. I've asked some of the doctors as we've moved through. Continue to ask questions. I'm going to take a moment and review through some of the ones we've already received.

In the meantime, [INAUDIBLE] scanning down-- all right, looks like a question. Dr. Cotton, those types of programming and levels of expertise typically require coming in high-level languages, like a Java, a C++. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

CHASE COTTON: Right. While it's not strictly required to be a professional programmer in this day and age, I would not want to be an engineer in almost any field and not have some limited programming skills in no matter what language, and that-- whether it's Python or whether it's just the ability to script and write Excel macros because having some programming skills today in almost any field allows you to deal with big data problems.

If you can't kind of massage large pieces of data, you're going to be limited to looking at it by hand. And particularly in the case of cybersecurity, it's kind of hard to look through six million lines of logs and decide where the bad guy is. So I would encourage anybody going into a technical field to enhance their programming skills.

At a minimum, we make sure the students become capable scripters using shell languages. And my recommendation would be that you should have some experience in one high-level language, whether it's C or C++ or Java, or even Python.

If someone is looking to pick one of those, I would recommend they start with Python. That's going to give them the most bang for the buck over a decade or so of a career.

JON HYMES: Excellent. Yeah, very relavent-- a Jack of all trades. Perfect. Looks like given the different time zones-- we have students even out of the country-- looking at different assessments, those aren't done real-time. How would a student maybe align different time zones? Will they have to worry about that in an online program?

CHASE COTTON: Yeah. The way the program setup is it's fully asynchronous. There's no time at any particular time where it's required that a student or a set of students meet with the professor. Almost all the material that you would learn from is either in the form of readings or textbook material or our online videos.

Now, again, we like the students to interact with one another in message boards, as well as with the instructors. And then the instructors make themselves available via phone and video conferencing and other things.

JON HYMES: Excellent. Perfect. And are professors accessible? Will they typically do virtual office hours? Usually, how do you see them supporting students?

CHASE COTTON: Yeah, that's what I do. And that's what most of the faculty do. Or they make special arrangements by email.

JON HYMES: Excellent. Yeah, so schedule something. [INAUDIBLE] send an email and know that the next day, your professor's going to see it in their inbox and get you back to you?

CHASE COTTON: Right. We try to get back in a reasonable amount of time. So that allows the students to fit the class work they need to do into their time schedule because not all of the-- all the students may not be on the same schedule as everybody else.

JON HYMES: Exactly. Dr. Barner, can you speak to some of the after-program services, like career services, alumni networking, those types of opportunities?

KENNETH BARNER: Sure. So the full resources of the university are available to online students, as well. We have a career services group at the university that organizes job fairs, looks at resume reviews, and various other things.

Some of those are physically on campus. Others are-- they have an extensive outreach of job postings that are available online. So everybody has access to that, whether you're locally here or whether you're anywhere else remotely.

So those resources are available. They have full access to the library. The library has, of course, physical collections, but also extensive electronic versions of various materials, journals, and what have you. So all of that, again, is available to online students.

And of course, the department has a pretty rich alumni network. They have about 3,000 alumni from the department. And the department regularly organizes activities associated with alumni and have an active alumni network.

So there's a big Blue Hen network out there that will embrace our current students and graduates. So that is also available to all the students, whether on campus or online.

JON HYMES: Exactly. And even relationships students form with their professors, too-- they keep in contact after graduation. You see that all the time.

It looks like this is just about all the questions. Some have been maybe more one-off. We'll have admissions counselors follow up via phone tomorrow for more personal questions that were asked.

Applications are open now. Courses begin for fall on August 30. The deadlines are roughly three weeks before that date. Everything can be done online. Our committee reviews applications as they come in on a first come, first served basis.

Please call us with any questions. There is the link to apply. Thank you so much for your attendance. Dr. Barner, Dr. Chase, anything else to add?

CHASE COTTON: No.

KENNETH BARNER: I just look forward to meeting a new cohort. We've got a very good cohort, this past one that was just going through. And I think they work well together and work well with the faculty members. So I look forward to those on this conference-- to seeing their applications and seeing them in the next cohort.

CHASE COTTON: Absolutely.

JON HYMES: Definitely, well-said. Well, to our professors, our chairs, thank you so much for your time this evening. Our attendees-- thank you, as well, for considering University of Delaware. Please give us a call with any questions.

What would you like to do next?