Dakota State University’s excellence in Cyber Security has been anything but a secret. Over 50% of the student population is enrolled in the Cyber Security Program in one way or another (major, minor, certificate.) Beacom stands as a crown jewel of the entire campus, and lining its halls are several glass cases showcasing awards gained by students and faculty for recognition, competition wins and placements, and outstanding performance. In 2012, DSU was formally recognized as the “Cyber Education Center of Excellence” by the National Security Agency (NSA).

Dakota State has recently made a lofty promise to its students and South Dakota. DSU has launched the “Cyber-27 Initiative” – which claims that by 2027, Dakota State University will be the best school in the entire country for Cyber Security. That is a major claim for a university with the size and population of 3 thousand students. What is their basis for this claim and how have they promised to achieve it?

According to the “Cyber-27 Initiative,” a website dedicated to this goal, it is stated that there will be a multi-step process to becoming #1. Their first stated step is: “Add more faculty to the Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences.” The rest is stated in an un-numbered list. “Double the number of cyber graduates. Support South Dakota by becoming the state’s premiere digital forensics lab. Build the Sioux Falls applied research lab and fill it with national contact work and research partners. And grow the Governor’s cyber academy.” This short video serves as an introduction to the idea, as well as an itinerary – being such, it does not detail how these steps will be completed. However, further stated on the website, as well as the Dakota State University site, it does state that these projects have been funded both by community raising and major donations from Philanthropist, T. Denny Sanford. Mr. Sandford has donated $50 million to fund the research building in Sioux Falls, which will both expand the program and its abilities but will also house more students, contributing to doubling the graduation rate of students in the program.

On this same website, a video interview with President Dr. José-Marie Griffiths, DSU’s Cyber Security program is shown in great light, boasting our 99% rate of students that already have a job lined up in their field of study before they graduate. In conjunction with this, recognizable and reputable companies scout out DSU graduates for their expertise, especially within the 6 majors relating to Cyber Security, Computer Science, and Artificial-Intelligence.

DSU and President Griffiths both claim that the success of DSU graduates comes from within the program itself, as the focus on students and faculty working together to complete real-world problems helps mold these students into desirable employees. In collaboration with the NSA, Cyber Security students are allowed to work on real-world threats, problems, and questions that help train students to be able to perform exactly what is asked of them, and then stretch beyond expectations.

Dakota State University’s continued success in Cyber Security and related programs will only be getting a major boost as large-scale investments are put toward the topic. Preparing to be the #1 Cyber Security school in the country is no small achievement, but DSU’s confidence and already proven funding to achieve their goals is an incredible step to making this promise a reality.