Philander Smith College and MISO partner to educate next generation of cyber protectors

Technology is swiftly changing lives around the globe. With technology, we are able to adjust the lights without physically being home, play our favorite songs by voice command and even pay at the register with our phones.

With the integration of technology, we are constantly becoming more dependent on our devices. Smart phones help us set alarms, create calendar events, or simply order food. But our increasing dependence on technology has created new vulnerabilities that cyber criminals can exploit.

Today, cyber crime is unfortunately on the rise – and no industry is immune to its threat.

The need for cyber security programs has paralleled this growth in cyber crime. Our devices are defenseless against hackers unless companies and people act to protect critical systems.

Cyber security is at the heart of these protections and the need is rapidly accelerating in the field of cyber security in America and around the globe. Our cars, home electronics, and the electric grid are run with varying degrees of smart, hackable technologies. These technologies can provide a wealth of personal information and free processing power for bad actors unless they are protected.

Utility companies play a critical role in keeping those systems protected and are actively working to ensure the lights are always on despite the changing threat landscape.

One group actively engaged in these efforts is the cyber security team at the Midcontinent Independent System Operator – or MISO. While that work hard today to mitigate threats, they want to ensure a robust pipeline of cyber defense experts in the future.

To support this aim, MISO recently announced a dynamic partnership with Little Rock, Arkansas-based Philander Smith College.

Starting in the fall of 2018 with partial funding from the Arkansas Department of Education, Philander will activate its carefully crafted cybersecurity four-year degree program. This partnership is designed to develop home grown talent, which will fundamentally work hand and hand with Arkansas companies.

VIDEO COVERAGE: See reaction from MISO and Philander Smith leaders.

Philander Smith College intends to successfully produce elite students ready to take on the jobs necessary to defend our security. These students occupy Philanders heavily populated majors in the realm of STEM programs. Not only will students be able to receive a degree in cyber security, but the program intends to allow students the opportunity to earn certificates and a technical two-year degree program.

The battle against cyber criminals has proved to be perpetual. The partnership between MISO and Philander Smith College could not have come at a better time. Not only will this collaboration benefit the students at Philander, but it will help enrich the cyber security community throughout the state of Arkansas and beyond.

Melanie Griffin is a senior history major at the University of Central Arkansas. She is a MISO Matters contributing writer.

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