Dr. Robin Gandhi knows he’s putting companies in a tough position when it comes to recruiting. As an associate professor of cybersecurity, he sees how many students are graduating with the skills companies near and far want. But by the time graduation rolls around, most of those candidates have already been hired.
That’s because UNO’s cybersecurity program is like few others. It’s one of just 20 other institutions designated by the National Security Agency (NSA) as a national Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations. It’s not easy for universities to meet the rigorous criteria for the honor, but UNO made it happen.
We're very much on top of what it would take to produce a good cyber security professional and we built that into our curriculum.
- Dr. Robin Gandhi
Through 2026, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the job outlook for information security analysts (one occupation in the field) to grow 28 percent — much faster than the average rate of seven percent. In 2017, the median pay for information security analysts was over $95,000, representing a great career opportunity for students willing to compete for these jobs. Jobs in cybersecurity are what Nebraska deems H3 jobs — high wage, high demand, high skill — and critical for state growth.
To give them an edge in the competitive field, UNO emphasizes hands-on experience for students. Nowhere is that more apparent than the capstone course, where students work with an assigned local business to assess a system or piece of equipment the company wants reviewed.
“We get real clients and real products that challenge students sometimes, because that comes with a lot of background and context that the students have to understand before they can really start the assessment,” Gandhi said.
UNO also values keeping its courses relevant for today’s challenges. He says the program updates many of its courses every semester depending on what’s happening in the industry.
“We're very much on top of what it would take to produce a good cyber security professional and we built that into our curriculum,” he said. “We're not waiting for NSA to tell us what to teach.”
The cybersecurity field is incredibly fluid and highly competitive. But thanks to a strong University of Nebraska supporting UNO’s program, Dr. Gandhi can continue to enjoy seeing many of his students accept job offers from local companies — often before they even graduate.