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University of Arizona cyber operations program gets $6 million dollar grant from the state

Money will help double number of students in program
Posted at 9:51 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-02 00:51:03-04

TUCSON, Ariz.(KGUN) — The University of Arizona just received $6 million dollars in funding from the State of Arizona to double the size of its cybersecurity and operations program to help get more students into cyber work. Jason Denno is the Director of Cyber Intelligence and Information Operations at UArizona, he says the 6-year-old program has been preparing students for one of the most in demand jobs in the country. There are currently close to 900 students enrolled in the program and those students are from all over the world.

"We've already been identified as the number one cyber program in the nation,” Denno said. "To keep the standards up and be able to push out even more highly qualified graduates the university and ABOR have provided us with this funding."

The school which is solely made up of only juniors and seniors will use the funding to hire 9 new faculty members and others to help maintain the online and in class experience the school has created for students. Classes are also recorded for those who can’t attend class if needed.

"The funding is really to bring in the faculty, we need advisors, we need and put some funding into the infrastructure,” Denno said. "We have one of the most advanced cyber learning environments in the nation run by advanced AI (Artificial Intelligence) as well."

Salaries for graduates are also good, according to Denno depending on location and the company you work for, graduates can get starting salaries ranging from $80,000 to $100,000 per year.

"We want to get to 2,000 students by 2025, we have a stretch goal to get to 5,000 students by 2030," Denno said.

If you are wondering if cyber security is right for you, Denno has some words of advice.

"If you love to solve problems, you're going to love the field of cyber,” Denno said. "You also need to want to continue to learn. This field has been under zero percent unemployment for 8 years now. There are 600,000 unfilled jobs in the U.S. and a year and a half ago that number was 350,000. It is going to be tough, but it will be worth it, and you will never ever have to look for work again because work is going to come find you."

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Shawndrea Thomas is an anchor and investigative reporter for KGUN 9. Shawndrea is living her dream as a journalist who’s passionate about making a difference. Share your story ideas and important issues with Shawndrea by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.