Jim Davis, Electrical and Computer Engineering, (515) 294-0659
Doug Jacobson, Electrical and Computer Engineering, (515) 294-8307
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- The Board of Regents, State of Iowa, today (July 19) approved a plan by Iowa State University to set up an interdepartmental masters of science degree in information assurance (computer security).

The program will begin this fall and will teach students to become information security researchers and practitioners, said Jim Davis, an Iowa State associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and coordinator the program.

"We continue to see hackers gain entrance into corporate computers and corrupt files and systems," Davis said. "This shows the need to have well educated professionals who can stop these attacks before they become a large-scale problem."

Davis said that the new degree program is the only such program in Iowa and one of six nationwide. The Iowa State program will draw from the expertise of seven ISU departments -- electrical and computer engineering, computer science, mathematics, industrial manufacturing systems engineering, political science, management information systems and library sciences. The program will offer technical and non-technical degrees.

"Our program will encompass a wider range of disciplines than many other programs," Davis explained. "We will have the pertinent technology topics, but we will also include management information systems for intrusion detection and political science for cyber policy. We will bring in the social, policy and ethical issues as well as the technical issues of information assurance."

The degree will be coordinated by a supervisory committee from participating departments. The program will draw from courses already being taught at Iowa State. In addition, Iowa State will use its Information Systems Security Laboratory in support of the program.

Each masters student candidate will come from a "home department," Davis said. While all students will complete a common core set of courses, there is an opportunity to specialize in an area of information assurance supported by the student's home department.

For example, a person with an interest in network security, will likely come from the electrical and computer engineering department and will have primarily technical elective classes to complete the master's degree. A person coming in from the political science department will have fewer technical electives and will focus more on the policy and social issues surrounding information assurance.

"This flexibility of our program and its wide range of course offerings will make it one of the top programs in information assurance," Davis said.

Davis expects the program to be popular. "The shortage of qualified workers in information technology has become a national crisis. Iowa State will continue to be a leader in finding solutions to this shortage in addition to providing a world class educational experience for our students," he added.

- 30 -
Iowa State homepage

University Relations, online@iastate.edu
Copyright © 1999-2000, Iowa State University, all rights reserved