Meet a Roadrunner: Top Scholar Eric Ficke puts UTSA top cybersecurity ranking to test

Eric Ficke

Eric Ficke

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(April 23, 2014) -- Meet Eric Ficke. One of the university's Top Scholars, he chose UTSA over Stanford or Johns Hopkins to study cybersecurity.

Considering that UTSA's cybersecurity program was recently named the best in the country, he's pretty happy with his decision.

"I'm proud of UTSA and I'm definitely glad that I chose to go here," he said.

Ficke, a computer science major, is the first freshman to intern at the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS), which provides exercises, training and tools to state and community entities to strengthen the nation's cybersecurity preparedness.

One of the programs the center is most known for is the annual Raytheon National Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, which brings together the top teams from universities across the country to apply their skills in defending against cyberattacks.

In the same vein, the CIAS also supports the Air Force Association's annual CyberPatriot competition, the premier national cyber security competition for high school students.

In fact, one could say UTSA played an early role in Ficke's interest in cybersecurity. As a student at San Antonio Christian High School, he participated in the CyberPatriot competitions.

Only a month into the internship, Ficke is already developing the curriculum for a course the CIAS will offer this summer in conjunction with St. Philip's College that will teach high school teachers the basics of cybersecurity -- how to attack and defend systems.

"When Eric leaves this internship program, he will have more experience than someone who has been on the job for a year," said Ray Sims, assistant director of the Infrastructure Assurance program at CIAS. "The CIAS complements what UTSA students are learning in their cybersecurity academic programs with application-based experience."

This harmony between academic and applied research supported by many dedicated individuals is the reason UTSA is able to provide the type of top ranked experience to top-tier students like Ficke.

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Do you know someone at UTSA who is achieving great things? Email us at social@utsa.edu, so we might consider your submission for an upcoming installment of Meet a Roadrunner.