WSU Goddard School of Business Produces In-Demand Cybersecurity Experts

Fifteen Weber State University graduates in management information systems (MIS) are headed to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), ranked as the nation’s No. 1 graduate program for information security and information management: nine to a master’s program and six to a summer internship.

Randy Boyle

Organizations are seeing a rise in data breaches and damage to information infrastructure on a daily basis. Highly skilled tech workers are needed to protect these critical systems. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analyst jobs have a projected growth rate of 28% over the next 10 years, among the top 20 fastest growing jobs in the country.

Spotting this trend of a high demand and low supply several years ago, WSU’s John B. Goddard School of Business & Economics took active steps to fill that gap.

Randy Boyle, Weber State MIS associate professor and cybersecurity expert, has collaborated with industry leaders to develop an innovative formula of curriculum and instruction to meet growing industry demand and prepare students for advanced degrees.

“We have incorporated advanced applied skills to every course — literally hundreds of applied projects per class,” Boyle explained. “Our students not only learn the applications and systems, but they also practice them hundreds of times in real-life scenarios. This prepares students to make educated decisions under pressure and communicate complex processes with nontechnical business counterparts effectively.”

Boyle has spearheaded a partnership where his MIS students compete for the limited spots in CMU’s Heinz College Master of Science in Information Security Policy & Management (MSISPM) and the Master of Information Systems Management (MISM) programs.

Summer Internship 

Another six WSU students will get a look at the rigors of graduate school through CMU’s cybersecurity summer fellowship called the IT Lab: Summer Security Intensive.

Chase Griffin (top, left) with CMU program participants

During the seven-week fellowship, students study with leading experts in the field and work with real-world clients on applied projects. They are also enrolled in three intensive cybersecurity courses.

CMU covers all fellowship costs including airfare, food, housing, tuition and a stipend. The most valuable perk, however, may come after the internship. Students who finish the program and are admitted to a master’s program in CMU’s Heinz College automatically qualify for a scholarship covering at least half of tuition, a $55,000 value.

In 2018, nine of the 25 students in this internship were selected from WSU, and this summer, six of the 30 are from WSU.

Weber State students have impressed Randy Trzeciak, director of CMU’s MSISPM and IT Lab: Summer Security Intensive programs.

“Weber State students have unique skills that are indicators of success in a master’s program,” Trzeciak said. “In addition to tech skills, they have solid business and critical-thinking skills. They come in with the foundational knowledge and then are comfortable and confident to add their own thoughts.”

Students who graduate from the CMU programs have tremendous career opportunities. Tarl Langham is one such student. He had an unconventional childhood, growing up in severe poverty and constantly on the move. After spending years as an auto mechanic, he entered WSU in the fall of 2013 at the age of 37. In 2017, he graduated in MIS and was immediately accepted into CMU’s 16-month MISM program. He graduated in spring 2019. In six years, Langham transformed from an auto mechanic to a data and operations research scientist for Principal Financial Group, in the Global Investors Division. The Principal Financial Group is a global financial investment management and insurance company headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, with $675.4 billion in assets under management.

Tarl Langham

Langham attributes his success to two things: “One was the need to learn and the desire to do well, and the second was Dr. Boyle’s influence, vision and motivation,” Langham said. “The difference between my earlier life is that my parents weren’t there to help me understand my potential. Dr. Boyle filled that role for me. It was a big deal and changed my life.”

The mean salary for graduates of the two CMU programs is $104,590, and 99% are employed within three months. Graduates go to work at organizations such as Google, Boeing, Amazon, Apple, Goldman Sachs, Deloitte, Disney, EA Sports and the federal government.

Chase Griffin, one of Weber State’s 2019 MIS graduates, was one of the 32 percent from his class recently accepted to CMU as a “pre-admit.” A “pre-admit” typically means an applicant is so well qualified they are given an immediate and early acceptance into the program without the full admissions committee review. Griffin credits his success to innovative curriculum, outstanding faculty and supportive student colleagues, who push each other to succeed.

“I have a lot of friends and family, and I’m always telling them about Weber State,” Griffin said. “First of all, Weber State has a great tuition price. It leads the way in the state with earning the highest salaries right out of school, and if you look at it from a financial standpoint, you are paying less tuition and getting a higher salary, it’s a no brainer.”

For information about WSU’s management information systems program, the partnership with CMU or any of the 15 students continuing their education there, contact Randy Boyle at randallboyle@weber.edu. Registration for fall classes at Weber State University is now open.

For photos, visit the following links:

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Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.

Contact:

Randy Boyle, Information Systems & Technology associate professor
801-626-7831 • randyboyle@weber.edu

Author:

Niki Tonks, Goddard School of Business & Economics marketing manager
 801-626-7397 • nikitonks@weber.edu