Blog

  • Member Post: ITP 2.0: Leading telecom program updated with focus on cybersecurity

    The Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program has announced a program rebranding, as well as an update to their degree offerings and research focus.

    The newly titled Technology, Cybersecurity and Policy (TCP) Program, approved by the Regents, signals an awareness of the current revolution in communication technology and CU’s commitment to meeting the needs of the workforce for the state and nation, bolstering national security and preparing students to lead in cybersecurity, which is increasingly becoming a significant global issue. 

    The updated program celebrated its launch with a campus visit on March 5 from Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who spoke to students about the importance of cybersecurity in fair elections, and Colorado Department of State Chief Technology Officer Rich Schliep, who shared strategies their department uses to protect citizens and that have made Colorado a leader in voter security. 

    “Colorado has become a leading technology hub and one of the top places for cybersecurity, with a wide variety of established companies and innovative startups located here,” said Daniel Massey, TCP director and former program manager in the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Cybersecurity Division. “Colorado is also a center of government and military cybersecurity activity, so it makes sense for CU Boulder, as the state’s leading research university, to put our focus here.”

    Nationally, there is a critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals. Several estimates project a workforce shortage of 3.5 million people in cybersecurity by 2023. According to Cyberseek, a digital tracker of cybersecurity jobs supported by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, there are currently 10,207 cybersecurity job openings in Colorado, the fourth highest rate per capita in the country.

    “The TCP program is a great example of how CU is innovating to meet the workforce demands of our state and contribute to the security of our nation,” said Bobby Braun, dean of CU Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. “While many programs focus on graduating students who are technologically adept, TCP layers policy and entrepreneurship training onto hands-on experience in state-of-the-art labs to graduate cybersecurity leaders.” 

    The revamped program currently offers three degrees: a professional master’s in network engineering, a master’s and PhD in cybersecurity and technology leadership, and a new professional master’s in cybersecurity. It also has strong ties to the National Security Agency, as one of its 16 Campus Ambassador universities, and the U.S. Department of Defense through programs such as the Designing for Defense course, as well as tuition-assistance and Yellow Ribbon programs for veterans.

    TCP traces its roots back to its founding in 1971 as the Interdisciplinary Telecom Program (ITP) at a time when the county’s telecommunications system was centralized and well before AT&T was split into seven regional phone systems. Boulder was already a leader in telecom at the time, hosting one of the early ARPANET nodes at the Department of Commerce Boulder. Since that time, telecommunications has expanded and evolved to the internet and home services through the Internet of Things.

    “In 1970 there was a serious gap between the understanding of telecommunications technology and the policy controlling its implementation,” said Distinguished Professor Frank Barnes, co-founder of ITP. “ITP was the first to include law and policy along with the economics and the technology at the MS level to train both engineers and non-engineers to lead the major changes taking place in the communications industry. This critical backbone of TCP is needed now more than ever as network communication technologies advance and require greater security, regulation and design. We are in the business of developing leaders today for the technology of tomorrow."