Cybersecurity program booming

SIU Cyber Security Dawgs

A growing number of attacks on computer networks worldwide has increased demand for university graduates with expertise in cyberdefense and cybersecurity, areas that barely existed just a decade ago.

This call comes as no surprise, as cyber criminals now show increasing new levels of ambition and sophistication – from multimillion-dollar bank heists to overt attempts at disrupting large networks that support production efforts for critical utilities.

SIU has responded to this demand by offering a specialization in cybersecurity through its School of Information Systems and Applied Technologies, and students typically have jobs lined up before they graduate because of high demand.

A point of pride for the program is the Security Dawgs cyberdefense team, a student organization that gives students hands-on experience through participation in cyberdefense and cybersecurity competitions. The team consistently earns first- or second-place honors in the state’s annual college cyberdefense competitions.

Despite these strengths, the program is in need of financial support to help educate tomorrow’s cybersecurity experts and industry leaders, according to Tom Imboden, associate professor of information systems technologies.

“Investments in equipment and opportunities will keep SIU students in the forefront of the industry,” he said. “For example, we received a grant a few years ago to acquire a remote-access solution that allows SIU to host virtual machines with curriculum content. This gives our students all of the software needed to provide an environment where students can complete lab exercises for the information technology courses they are enrolled in.”

Upkeep to the servers is essential, but costly.

“Our servers are now five years old and need to be upgraded,” Imboden said. “New servers cost around $6,000 each, and they come with an annual fee of $3,000.”

The Security Dawgs also need support getting to, and participating in, competitions.

“Typically, the team has only three weeks’ notice informing them they are invited to compete in the state or regional competitions,” Imboden said. “Ensuring that we have transportation and lodging for 10 students is a challenge. These competitions help put SIU, the program and our students on the map.”

To learn more about the information technologies program, visit To learn more about the needs of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, visit

Scholarships nurture healthy appetite for success

SIU College of Agriculture student Lindsey Eigsti

By Jeff Wilson

Lindsey Eigsti has a plan.

The senior from Shelbyville is majoring in human nutrition and dietetics. She’s applying to graduate school. She’s wants to become a dietitian and work to improve people’s health.

“Preventative health care is so important,” Eigsti said. “I want to tackle huge health problems and promote positive change.”

Eigsti is a legacy student. A handful of her family members attended SIU. So, when she received a full-tuition scholarship to become a Saluki, she was ecstatic.

“(The scholarship) opened a lot of doors for me. It made coming to SIU more feasible,” she said “I fell in love with campus.”

Before receiving her scholarship, junior college was a likely route. She expressed her gratitude toward the philanthropists who are willing to lend students a helping hand.

“Donations change people’s lives,” she said. “It’s so nice to have people out there who make education more accessible. Any amount can help.”

She has also received three other scholarships, which have allowed her to focus on academics and other opportunities. She works as an undergraduate intern with University Housing’s nutrition team. The group offers counseling to students with dietary issues and focuses on promoting healthy eating habits on campus.

When she’s not studying or working, she prefers to be outdoors. As someone who enjoys hiking, fishing and camping, Eigsti said she’s enjoyed her time in Southern Illinois.

Human nutrition and dietetics is a growing program within the College of Agricultural Sciences. It lends itself to careers in a number of fields, including public health, business, education, marketing, restaurants, fitness and more.

SIU’s program has been a near perfect fit for Eigsti.

“The professors are awesome. I’ve really been able to build relationships with them,” she said. “They make the program feel like it’s tailored to me.”

For more information about College of Agricultural Sciences fundraising goals, visit

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