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U of I Honors State’s First Bachelor’s of Cybersecurity Graduates

May 09, 2024

MOSCOW, Idaho — University of Idaho’s College of Engineering will recognize the state’s first undergraduate class of cybersecurity professionals as they head off to positions in Idaho and nationwide.

Cybersecurity undergraduates from Idaho’s first bachelor’s cybersecurity degree, established in 2020 — Sean Devine of Pocatello, Oscar Michua-Zarate of Caldwell, Matthew Neel of Idaho Falls and Hunter Squires of Lewisville — will be recognized during the Spring Commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 11, on the Moscow campus.

These students join U of I’s growing number of cybersecurity master’s graduates. U of I launched its master’s program in 2021, one of the first in the nation to do so.

“The University of Idaho leads advanced cybersecurity education and training at the state and federal levels,” University of Idaho President Scott Green said. “We are thrilled to celebrate Idaho’s first cybersecurity undergraduates and more than 30 years of cybersecurity education at U of I.”

Devine started U of I’s undergraduate cybersecurity program in 2020, and, upon graduation, has accepted a position as a cybersecurity engineer at Idaho National Laboratory.

“Cybersecurity at University of Idaho is about secure code development,” he said. “We’re not identifying cyberattacks as they occur, we’re engineering novel critical energy, water, transportation, health care systems to make them inherently secure and impenetrable well into the future.”

Devine will graduate debt-free as a Cybercorps: Scholarship for Service (SFS) student. For over 20 years, the U of I Center for Secure and Dependable Systems (CSDS) has maintained its status in the National Science Foundation program, securing more than $20 million in total funding to train students to work at the highest levels of government. Since 2001, over 110 students have graduated from the program.

Funding covers all tuition and degree-related fees for participants in the SFS program. Program participants are assigned to a faculty-led research project investigating cybersecurity and cyber-defense issues.

“The SFS program is one important part of U of I’s ongoing role in meeting Idaho’s and the nation’s critical need for cybersecurity professionals,” said Terence Soule, professor and chair of U of I’s Department of Computer Science. “We worked with industry to identify the rising workforce need in the 1990s and have provided national influence in curriculum development and hands-on research ever since.”

Squires interned with Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) as a student and will continue in his role with the global power systems protection leader.

“What I’ve loved about studying cybersecurity at U of I is the way the classes are taught,” Squires said. “We talk about business practices, compliance and how to handle data, but faculty members also focus on technical control, how to enforce password complexity and other safety protocols and the social aspect of doing so. You really start to understand how large systems work and how computers behave.”

Through partnerships with leading industry, including SEL, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Power, POWER Engineers and Avista, the U of I College of Engineering has developed a network of state-of-the-art equipment, labs and resources to give students direct access to lab exploration and research aimed at strengthening cybersecurity and developing inherently cyber-secure industrial control systems.

Students receive one-on-one mentorship from nationally and internationally recognized professional faculty members with doctorates in the field of cybersecurity and expertise in power engineering, information assurance, industrial control systems and transportation.

“The integration of engineering with cybersecurity core principles is a critical part of the program offered by the University of Idaho College of Engineering,” U of I Engineering Dean Suzanna Long said. “It allows our graduates to immediately address challenges facing Idaho and national industries.”

As one of the National Security Agency’s first seven National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense, U of I has led advanced cybersecurity education and research for more than three decades.

CSDS was also recently appointed academic support center lead, representing community colleges and universities nationwide for the newly launched Department of Defense University Consortium for Cybersecurity (UC2).

Congressionally mandated by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the UC2 exists to facilitate two-way communication between the U.S. Secretary of Defense and academia across the United States. 

Media Contacts:

Terry Soule
Chair and Professor
U of I College of Engineering Department of Computer Science

Alexiss Turner 
Marketing and Communications Manager 
U of I College of Engineering 

About the University of Idaho

The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at


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