NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois State University in Normal is seeing more students choose cybersecurity as a major.
ISU celebrated that growth Monday with an open house of its newly renovated space at Julian Hall. The space creates a place to train students for an in-demand field.
“It’s an incredibly important discipline and we’re excited to be a part of providing the workforce in that field,” said ISU President Dr. Terri Goss Kinzy.
Cybersecurity was established as an official major in 2016 and now the program has grown to include over 400 students.
“The space has just come on after the summer; you can see the energy is starting. There’s common spaces for students where they can work together, faculty offices and some really innovative teaching spaces that aren’t just your classic classrooms,” Kinzy said.
The space housed on the lower level of Julian Hall features three classrooms and two collaborative rooms for smaller groups. Insurance giant, State Farm has supported ISU’s program since the beginning, including a $3 million donation to support the program and an endowed chair position.
State Farm Vice President & CISO Jesse Magenheimer said cybersecurity is a field in high demand.
“Pretty much everything nowadays is connected to the internet and that means it faces risk from potential bad actors; somebody that either wants to do harm, steal money, steal information,” Magenheimer said.
Magenheimer said cybersecurity careers take commitment and are a skill honed over many years of practice.
“That starts with educational programs, that starts with hands-on training, and so the partnership with Illinois State University makes great sense,” Magenheimer said.
Hacking and cybercrimes are major problems for State Farm, ISU and any company or organization in the digital age.