University of Arizona forms innovative partnership to provide cybersecurity education in Chandler

July 30, 2019
Woman at computer

The University of Arizona (UA) continues to add to the list of programs available through its UA Chandler location. One of the latest educational offerings is a Bachelor of Applied Science with an emphasis in Cyber Operations designed to prepare students for a number of in-demand, cyber-related occupations in defense, law enforcement and private industry.

“As an emerging tech hub, Arizona is positioned to grow as a national leader in cybersecurity,” said Joel Hauff, associate vice president for academic initiatives and student success. “The University of Arizona’s Applied Science degree in Cyber Operations ensures a pipeline of experts in Chandler, and throughout the state, who are ready to fill in-demand jobs and equipped to drive the next generation of tech security.”

Students that complete UA’s Cyber Operations curriculum gain both offensive and defensive cybersecurity skills needed to step into a rapidly growing field with high-wage job opportunities. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for an Information Security Analyst in the Phoenix metro area is $96,660. That is nearly double the average wage for all occupations in the region, at just over $50,000.

A global talent shortage has made cybersecurity experts among the most sought-after professionals in the tech sector. Cybersecurity Ventures, a leading provider of cyber economy data, predicts there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021. Finding workforce-ready talent is already a major challenge for many Phoenix area technology companies.

“As MST Solutions continues to grow in Chandler, one of the biggest challenges we face is finding and hiring the tech talent needed to sustain growth,” said Thiru Thangarathinam, founder and CEO of MST Solutions. “We look at programs like UA’s Cyber Operations as being a key partner in helping us to find highly qualified graduates who are ready to make an impact and help us grow.”

Higher education providers like the University of Arizona are also critical to sustained economic success at a city level. “The University of Arizona’s focus on delivering programs that address the needs of local industry is one of the things that makes them such a great community partner,” said Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke. “Chandler’s skilled workforce has been the major driver behind the tech sector growth we have experienced over the years. We are thrilled that the University of Arizona is helping to develop the next generation of tech workers in Chandler.”

In addition to the Bachelor of Applied Science degree program, UA is helping to build an East Valley talent pipeline through an innovative partnership with Chandler Unified School District (CUSD) and Chandler-Gilbert Community College. The education providers have worked together to develop a pathway into the cybersecurity profession for local high schoolers.

Basha High School students are now able to enroll in a Cyber Security Academy where they start taking introductory courses at their school, participate in dual enrollment opportunities with Chandler-Gilbert Community College, and graduate high school with the pre-requisites needed to enroll in UA’s Cyber Operations program.

“CUSD recognizes the vast opportunities for careers in STEM fields and we begin nourishing interest in our students as early as kindergarten,” said Dr. Camille Casteel, superintendent of Chandler Unified School District. “Our latest program – the Basha High Cyber Security Academy – will play a small part in filling the void of a global shortage of two to three million cybersecurity professionals.”

For more information on UA offerings available in Chandler, visit the University of Arizona.

Media contacts:        

David Miller
University of Arizona
Director, Content Strategy and Communications

Stephanie Romero   
City of Chandler
Public Information Officer