UTICA — Utica University is taking its cyber-education program to the next level with a new cyber range it will build in Bull Hall.
The range will open up new education and training methods and opportunities for the university beyond the programs and products it uses now to train the next-generation cyber workforce, says Andrew Carr, director of graduate cybersecurity programs.
“We can have a ransomware incident,” he says. The range will give students a “pull back the curtain” view on a cybersecurity incident. “The limits are endless.”
The 1,300-square-foot range will include 20 mobile computing stations, allowing professors to plan both individual and team activities.
“Right now, we have a lot of hands on,” Leslie Corbo, director of undergraduate cybersecurity programs at Utica University, says. The range will be different, she notes, because it will allow students to see — and participate — in the entirety of a cyber incident from planning to clean up. Students will also have opportunities to play different roles, from the “bad actors” who do the hacking to the good guys who fight them off.
“They’re going to be able to see everything,” she says, and that will help students determine what areas of cybersecurity they want to focus on professionally.
The range helps professors align with the cyber curriculum the university revamped in January 2022 to provide a more well-rounded education on both sides of the cyber equation, she adds.
“Cybersecurity moves so quickly,” Corbo says. “We start to fall behind if we don’t have something like this.”
Such ranges are usually found at “elite” schools, Carr notes. “It’s really for those trying to push the boundaries.”
The range isn’t just a benefit to Utica University students, he adds. It’s also a boon to the area’s industry professionals and businesses.
“People are getting excited we are bringing something like this in,” he says.
Opportunities for those professionals to both learn and share their experience with students will be plentiful, Carr says. That networking can also help students land internships or even employment upon graduation.
Both Carr and Corbo are working on curriculum with the expectation the range will be complete and active for the fall 2024 semester.
Utica University received a $150,000 grant from the George I. Alden Trust for the range and is actively fundraising for the project. Construction is expected to begin when funds raised reach $300,000.
The range will also include auditorium-style seating for up to 16 people and a video wall that allows distance-learning students to participate.
Utica University has just over 500 students in its cybersecurity program, and that number is growing, Corbo says. “I believe this range will make it even more of a big thing,” she says.
The university offers graduate and undergraduate cybersecurity degrees with three specializations — cyber operations, digital forensics and incident response, and cybercrime and fraud investigation.