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UTICA COLLEGE – TV: How Cybersecurity faculty with real-world expertise help strengthen theory in the classroom

Both full time and adjunct faculty within the Cybersecurity and Cyber Policy programs at Utica College have many years of prior and current experience in the Cybersecurity field. This is not by coincidence, in fact, faculty are sought after who have backgrounds that include careers in big 4 consulting and Fortune 500, to retired military and law enforcement, so that they can readily integrate course curriculum with real-world application and scenarios. At the same time, faculty are also strong academically, holding a doctorate/terminal degree or actively pursuing one related to the field.

Joe Giordano, Director of the Graduate and Undergraduate Cybersecurity and Cyber Policy programs, and Leslie Corbo, adjunct Cybersecurity lecturer, sit down for a video interview with UCTV host, Dr. James Norrie, Dean of Business and Justice Studies, to discuss why this balance between practical expertise and academic credentials is important and how this is a significant benefit for our students.


Transcript: How Cybersecurity faculty with real-world expertise help strengthen theory in the classroom.

Dr. Norrie: Welcome back to the morning edition of UCTV, and we are joined this morning by Leslie Corbo, an Adjunct Instructor here, and of course, a returning guest Joe Giordano -- we've seen him many times -- who is our Program Director responsible for Cybersecurity.

So I really want to begin today with the perspective of a new student coming into our program, because, Leslie, you teach our introductory course in Cybersecurity.

Leslie Corbo: I do.

Dr. Norrie: So what is it that we're trying to do in that very first course and what can a student expect in that experience?

Leslie Corbo: Well, in the very first course it can be a little overwhelming because it's almost like you're drinking from a fire hose. You're exposed to so much. But what I tell them is: "What I want you to do is try to focus on what it is you really, really liked in the program and start using that as something you can become a subject matter expert in."

Dr. Norrie: Hmm. And so as a faculty member obviously concerned about and committed to students, what do you do to make that experience really outstanding in that first course?

Leslie Corbo: Oh my gosh. I have all kinds of interaction with the students. Even though it's an online course, I do a lot of meetings with students online. We can use a lot of different technologies here.

Dr. Norrie: Like what?

Leslie Corbo: We use something called the BigBlueButton.

Dr. Norrie: I've heard of that.

Leslie Corbo: We use Adobe Connect. We set up conference calls, webinars, those kinds of things. I like to get students exposed to even using things like Skype and Google chat rooms, just to be able to connect with one another, because I think it's important that you find someone in your cohort that you really like and that you're kind of in this together, so it becomes a lifelong friendship.

Dr. Norrie: That's great. So, Joe, it seems to me Leslie represents very much the kind of instructor we're looking for.

Joe Giordano: The Master's degree in Cybersecurity is a very practical master's degree program. I call it a professional program, and what we're doing is we're looking for people like Leslie, people who are in the field and doing this kind of work every day of the week.

So we have people, like Leslie, who work at PhishMe. We have others like Vern McCandlish, who is a senior malware analyst, a malicious code analyst at GE. We have people from the Big Four, KPMG and others. We have people in law enforcement. We have retired military. We have retired intelligence officers.

And that's not to say that we don't have PHDs and doctorates. We have a number of individuals teaching in the program who are not only practical, hands-on, but they bring that academic side. They either hold a doctorate, hold a terminal degree, or are studying for a terminal degree as Leslie is right now.

Dr. Norrie: Great. So it sounds like we're really trying to achieve that perfect balance between theory and application.

Joe Giordano: Yes.

Dr. Norrie: Okay. So, Leslie, what would you say students would highlight on their résumé that makes them different if they've graduated from our program?

Leslie Corbo: There's the practical experience they're getting. Even though it's an online degree, there are a lot of new tools that are online that they can use to accentuate what they're doing in the field. A lot of times I have students come back to me and say, "I was able to take it into my employer and say, 'Look at this, and this is something that people could do to attack us," and students have actually created security policies in their workforce based on things that we've taught them in just one simple lesson.

Dr. Norrie: Great. What's the job market like in your field today?

Joe Giordano: Job market to me looks great. People are graduating from the program. They're getting jobs as network security people, as malware analysts. We just had a number of success stories. We just had three young women graduate from the program get jobs as computer forensic investigators for a variety of government agencies.

Dr. Norrie: Wow.

Joe Giordano: So the work is across the board, even in non-technical aspects of cyber, looking at risk and policy and those kind of things.

Dr. Norrie: Great. Well listen, I really appreciate both of you joining me this morning for this episode. Anybody can have a curriculum in Cybersecurity, but what makes us different are the faculty like Leslie and Joe who joined me this morning.
So find out more about our faculty and programs. Have a great day.

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