Building a Cyber Operations Powerhouse in Arizona: Dr. Robbins' Perspective

March 7, 2023
Image of President Robbins talking with Jason Denno during their interview.

Dear Friends,

It has happened to all of us: you check your email in the morning and see a name you recognize, maybe even someone claiming to be the President of the University of Arizona, and they have an important task for you that requires buying a lot of gift cards. Hopefully, it is obvious on closer inspection that your good friend Bobby Robbins is not emailing you, but instead you have a spam or phishing email you need to delete right away.

We do not always realize how much cybersecurity is part of our daily lives. The internet is an incredible resource that has become deeply ingrained as part of our everyday lives, from learning the latest news over morning coffee, to watching kitten videos before going to sleep. Unfortunately, the internet’s ubiquity brings risks we have to understand and manage.

Whether deleting a spam email or enabling a two-factor authentication for an app, we all can take basic precautions to make sure that our private information is not accessed. But most of us cannot even imagine what goes on at the forefront of cyber operations.

Fortunately for those of us, me included, who are mystified by cyber threats, the University of Arizona is training the world’s top leaders and experts in cyber security, cyber intelligence, and cyber operations. Our College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) is home to the No. 1 Cyber Operations program in the nation, offering bachelor degree emphases in cyber engineering, cyber law and policy, and defense and forensics. The College also offers programs in related areas like the first-in-the-nation Bachelor of Applied Sciences in Intelligence and Information Operations, making it a hub of workforce development and opportunity for students looking to go into these growing and exciting fields.

The University has invested in these programs, and within its first six years, the Department of Cyber, Intelligence & Information Operations has grown from three students to over 1,250 students. It was designated an Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence (IC CAE) by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and is one of only 24 programs in the nation that was also designated as a Center of Academic Excellence – Cyber Operations (CAE-CO) by the National Security Agency. We have strong partnerships with cyber intelligence industries of Arizona, and our students are highly sought after by both government agencies and the private sector.

I recently sat down with Jason Denno, Executive Director of our Cyber Convergence Center, and we talked about the College of Applied Science and Technology in Sierra Vista and the outstanding learning experience our students have when they study there. Watch this video to learn more about how our students are receiving innovative training that prepares them for the most in-demand jobs all over the world. (I promise the link is safe).

Bear Down,

Robert C. Robbins, M.D.

The University of Arizona