Cyber lab now open


Fez Ur-Rahman, Contributing writer

Mercyhurst began the 2018-19 school year by unveiling one of the newest additions to campus: the MCPc Cyber Education Center. This lab will provide students with an array of new opportunities, including the Cyber Security and Data Science undergraduate majors. The state-of-the-art technology and bright lights are a stark contrast from the old basement library that it replaced.

Former Gov. Tom Ridge was pleased with the advances that Mercyhurst is making, saying in a university news release that “Mercyhurst University is at the forefront of developing our nation’s future cyber leaders.”

Mercyhurst University President Michael T. Victor said he values the opportunities that the lab will bring for students.

“Cyber education represents the next great opportunity for Mercyhurst, giving us the chance to leverage our experience, faculty expertise, cutting-edge resources and industry connections to position Mercyhurst as a cyber leader at the undergraduate and graduate levels,” said Victor.

Cyber security and data science undergraduate classes will be taking place in the new labs, as well as the data science graduate programs. The Cyber Security masters program and the Cyber Risk Management Program will be offered online.

“Cyber security is a very practical locational kind of field, so there is a huge demand in the marketplace. The unemployment rate in cybersecurity has been 0 percent since 2016,” said intel professor M. Afzal Upal, Ph.D.

The opportunities for technological advancement were made possible for Mercyhurst through a grant given to the school. The Cyber Lab, including the network operating center, was primarily sponsored by MCPc., FW Hirt, Erie Insurance and Cyber Masters in Cyber Risk Management.

Mercyhurst is one of the leading intelligence programs in the country and is fortunate to have the technology and skilled staff to make this program a success for the university.
Upal believes that cyber security education will continue to affect the U.S. government and the entire intelligence community.

“The government is already focused on land and air and sea, but cyber is just as important. It’s a brand-new environment. People who predict the future see more and more warfare is going into that environment,” said Upal.

The general response from the students and faculty so far has been great.

“The Cyber Lab is a great new addition to Mercyhurst University. It allows Intelligence Studies, Business and Criminal Justice majors to learn more about cyber security and data science, which are both popular upcoming fields with tons of possibilities,” said senior Intelligence Studies and IT major Mick Weimer.

Not only does the Cyber Lab create opportunities for students, it is a unique addition to the university.

“Having this Cyber Security program and this cyber security lab with its unique experience sets Mercyhurst as a vanguard in cyber education,” said cyber security professor Christopher Mansour, Ph.D., “especially with the support that is given to the Cyber Security faculty from the Computing Information Science Department and the Ridge College.”