UNK streamlines many tech-based degrees

KEARNEY, Neb. - KSNB The University of Nebraska at Kearney has created a new cyber systems department to stay competitive in the tech world.

The department includes five existing academic programs, and added a new one.

A cyber security operations major will be available for students to take in the fall.

Officials said the addition of the major made the merger of all the IT programs into one single unit the next natural step.

"So you come in as a student. You maybe start in computer science, or you start with security, and you really find this isn't the right fit for you," said Sherri Harms, the interim chair of the cyber systems department at UNK. "That's okay, because we have all these other wonderful programs to chose. And businesses need them all, and businesses love them all. It really is a great opportunity for students when they come here."

The department will now have majors in computer science, computer science comprehensive, IT, information networking and telecommunications and management systems, as well as the cyber security major.

Students in the department agree that the integration was the right move.

"There's a lot of tech start up going on in Kearney with The Buckle and Xfinity. So they're really looking to UNK to be the new tech frontier for college. And I think this is definitely going to be a good way to move forward," said Andrew Oliver, a senior applied computer science major.

Another student said it will be beneficial for incoming students to be introduced to more tech-related fields.

"Students coming in, they'll get a taste of everything. And I think it'll expand their platform of how to interconnect everything together. So it makes it better in classes, from what I've experienced," said Leo Wilson, a senior information networking and telecommunications major.

Harms added that so far, the school has received positive feedback from local businesses about the merger.

"It gives, like, more paths. Like say you worked, or you do all these classes up to one point, and you're feeling like maybe you want to switch to something else," said Angel Ruiz, an IT major at UNK. "I think adding more options, and kind of having that consolidation will help students, new students, with their future careers."

The department will be moving to a $30 million STEM building in Fall 2019 that will be home to UNK's science, math, technology and engineering programs.