Chair’s Message | A School Taking Shape

Feb. 12, 2021

Dear Cybersecurity and Privacy Community,

Suddenly, I feel like a school chair. For the last six months SCP has been preparing to be a school. This week was like hopping onto a moving conveyer belt.

  • We are admitting students to the school. The Fall 2021 class of incoming Ph.D. students will receive acceptance letters this week. This year’s applicant pool was exceptional, and competition from peer institutions will be fierce, but with even a modest yield (that’s what we call the percentage of accepted students who show up), it will be the strongest doctoral class in recent memory. Demand for the master’s program is also high, but online students continue to outpace residential enrollment. The Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity program grew by 16 percent in its second year and is now more than 1,000 students as of spring 2021.
  • Undergraduate programs are in the works. As I mentioned last week, the curriculum committee is consolidating and streamlining existing course offerings for available undergraduate degrees and certificates. A stand-alone undergraduate degree in cybersecurity is still in the early design phases. Last week’s letter must have hit a nerve. Thanks to all of you who took the time to contact Professors Antón, Goodman, and me with your must-have courses and concentrations. We will be holding town halls and round tables to gather broad input from the Georgia Tech community.
  • Speaking of must-haves: I am chairing the Georgia Cybersecurity Roadmap Taskforce (GCRT), a group which will identify cybersecurity skills that are needed as Atlanta and the region become an important hub for cybersecurity and privacy. Gloria Griessman, who manages external engagements for SCP, oversees the GCRT agenda, part of which includes a series of panels focused on crucial questions. The first panel will take stock of existing programs at all educational levels from K-12 to post-secondary and lifetime education. Watch the SCP website for dates and times. On a related note, there is a new article about federal workforce needs and the CyberCorps program managed by SCP faculty members Profs. Ahamad and Goodman. Georgia Tech in one of the original ten CyberCorps sites.
  • Hiring season is upon us. SCP began recruiting this week with a virtual talk from University of Maryland visiting scholar Julian Loss, who specializes in blockchain, distributed consensus and multi-person computation. You can find his seminar talk here.
  • The date for the 2021 IISP/SCP Cybersecurity Summit is set and will be announced next week. This year’s theme will assess the new threat landscape and its effect on how companies organize their cybersecurity efforts and what skills will be needed.
  • Project-based learning (PBL) is always a topic of conversation in the committees planning SCP’s courses and programs. I mentioned this before the holiday break last year, and I promised to give you an update. I have now spoken with our board of industrial advisors about internships and other project opportunities for SCP students. Most of the companies on our advisory board are enthusiastic about offering project-based learning experiences to SCP students.
  • Very shortly, it will become a whole lot easier to collaborate with Microsoft around cybersecurity projects. As reported Thursday, Microsoft will open a new 90-acre campus to the west of Georgia Tech. With two new regional data centers, this will be a major expansion of Microsoft east of the Mississippi. As President Ángel Cabrera noted in a recent post: Silicon Valley-Puget Sound-ATL is the perfect triangle.
  • To broaden our impact in another way, the school has been working to get a fuller picture of how faculty influence public discourse in the media. We’ve created an interactive visual snapshot of some Georgia Tech people, topics, and trends in the news and plan to update it periodically.

Today, GT Computing is launching a celebration of the black computing community in the college and beyond as part of Black History Month. You can read about our own Grace Fejokwu, an OMS Cybersecurity student, who has a fun story of where her cybersecurity journey started. Black students now account for almost 13 percent (~124 students) of the online program’s enrollment as of December.

I encourage you to take a minute to explore the virtual celebration, which includes an introduction from Dean Isbell.

Thanks for reading and I’ll talk with many of you at the chair’s open office hour later today.


Rich DeMillo
Charlotte B. and Roger C. Warren Chair of Computing 
Chair, School of Cybersecurity and Privacy   

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Follow me on Twitter @rad_atl and @richde