Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

UNCW to Offer New Programs in Cybersecurity and Intelligent Systems Engineering

To meet the growing demand for STEM professionals, the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) is introducing two new undergraduate degrees in cybersecurity and intelligent systems engineering. These innovative programs are the first of their kind in the UNC System, positioning UNCW as a pioneer in these disciplines. With approval from the UNC Board of Governors already secured, the programs are set to commence in fall 2022, pending accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Bridging the Workforce Gap

The new cybersecurity program at UNCW aims to bridge the significant workforce gap in this field. According to, there are over 464,400 open cybersecurity positions in the United States, with 17,660 vacancies in North Carolina alone. With the escalating frequency and severity of cyberattacks affecting companies and governments, the need for highly skilled professionals in this domain has never been more critical.

Provost James Winebrake emphasizes the importance of addressing cybersecurity issues holistically, stating, “Cyberattacks on our computing systems continue to threaten our personal security, government operations, and professional activities.” UNCW’s cybersecurity degree program will produce interdisciplinary graduates equipped to tackle the complex challenges of cybersecurity, benefiting North Carolina and the nation as a whole.

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Engineering a Smarter Future

The intelligent systems engineering program at UNCW combines the principles of computing, engineering, and liberal arts to prepare students for success in a rapidly evolving industry. This interdisciplinary approach allows students to explore innovative ways of connecting cyber and physical systems. Industries such as precision farming, smart transportation, intelligent medical devices, and government initiatives like smart cities all stand to benefit from the skills and knowledge acquired by graduates of this program.

According to Ron Vetter, professor of computer science and contributor to the development of these degree programs, demand for these programs is expected to be significant. The rising need for STEM skills and the profound interest from students indicate a promising future for graduates. “By all accounts, the societal demand and employability of graduates from these degree programs will be very high,” Vetter affirms.

Strengthening Current Initiatives

UNCW’s new undergraduate degrees build upon the existing programs aimed at narrowing the workforce gap. The university was awarded a $196,782 grant from the Department of Defense Cyber Scholarship Program in 2020 to develop the UNCW-CFCC Collaborative Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program. This initiative provides work-based learning experiences for UNCW cybersecurity students and incentivizes CFCC Cyber Crime Technologies graduates to further their studies at UNCW.

Furthermore, UNCW was chosen as one of the ten universities to participate in CyberStart, a pilot program designed to cultivate future cybersecurity professionals. The university received funding from the National Science Foundation to implement CyberStart, which was developed by the SANS Institute, a renowned global leader in cybersecurity training and certification.

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UNCW’s commitment to cybersecurity education is further demonstrated by the establishment of the Center for Cyber Defense Education in 2018. The university holds the prestigious Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education designation awarded by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. UNCW offers a comprehensive cyber defense education curriculum, reinforcing its dedication to producing top-notch cybersecurity professionals.

The bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity is offered by the Department of Computer Science within the College of Arts and Sciences and the Congdon School of Supply Chain, Business Analytics, and Information Systems within the Cameron School of Business. The Department of Computer Science also offers the intelligent systems engineering program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When will the new undergraduate programs at UNCW begin?
A: The cybersecurity and intelligent systems engineering programs are scheduled to start in fall 2022, pending accreditation approval.

Q: Why is there a workforce gap in the cybersecurity field?
A: The increasing number of cyberattacks on both private and public entities has created a demand for highly skilled professionals to safeguard systems and mitigate risks.

Q: How will the intelligent systems engineering program benefit industries?
A: Graduates of the program will possess the necessary skills to connect cyber and physical systems in industries such as agriculture, transportation, medical devices, and government initiatives like smart cities.


UNC Wilmington’s introduction of new undergraduate programs in cybersecurity and intelligent systems engineering demonstrates its commitment to fostering innovation and addressing the critical workforce gap in these fields. These programs will equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the ever-evolving technology landscape. By staying at the forefront of technological advancements, UNCW is creating a brighter future for both its students and the industries they will serve.

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For more information about UNCW and its programs, visit Eireview.