Five year curriculum review

We have been operating the country’s only two-year hands-on industrial cybersecurity degree program for six years! That’s hard to believe.

We have produced some great graduates and placed them with great employers, including the INL, Accenture, West Yost, Automated Dairy, and Simplot.

In order to ensure the relevance of the program, we recently conducted a comprehensive curriculum review with the ESTEC Executive Director and seven faculty members who teach program courses.

We walked-down every course in the program, including title, description, learning objectives, syllabus, mapping to program objectives, assessments administered, and educational materials (including laboratory equipment) used.

The review was a big deal and made for some long sessions. We asked hard questions and had meaningful discussions about what to include or exclude. For example:

  • We decided to add a new course to provide deeper coverage into operating systems. This meant we were going to have to cut a course. Where instructors are limited, and some courses are taken by students in multiple programs of study, this was a tough decision to make.
  • We debated whether we were spending too much time on units of measure, including conversions of temperature, pressure, level and flow. At first the repeated emphasis on this topic seemed unnecessary; but, frank discussion bore out that if a student cannot do this, they will be ineffective at understanding/describing both the causes and consequences of an incident. We decided that assignments dealing with this topic needed to include context that reinforced their relevance to industrial cybersecurity.
  • We determined to re-emphasize the importance of reading and creating engineering diagrams, especially piping and instrumentation diagrams.

What you might not realize if you are unfamiliar with formalized education administration is that some curriculum changes require approval of the entire university curriculum council — meaning that changes will not appear in the catalog for a year or more!

In all, I felt like this detailed review represented a new level of maturity for ISU’s industrial cybersecurity program. I am excited for how these changes will better prepare our students to tackle the complexity of an exciting and evolving field.