The Charger Blog

University Creates Cutting-Edge Program to Immerse High School Students in Cybersecurity Education

The University of New Haven’s new Technology|Innovation|Experience|Discovery (TIED) program enables high school students to explore careers in high-demand fields in technology, while earning college credits and learning from industry leaders.

July 13, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Students in computer lab
The University’s TIED program enables high school students to explore careers in high-demand fields in technology.

When Stephanie Gillespie, Ph.D., was in high school, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to study in college. Although she didn’t have many opportunities to explore careers in technology, she did attend an outreach event that enabled her to learn about engineering. She credits the program with sparking her interest in the field, inspiring her to major in electrical engineering, and, eventually, to become an engineer.

As a first-year undergraduate student, she, too, got involved in programs that exposed her to opportunities in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Now associate dean for the University of New Haven’s Tagliatela College of Engineering, Dr. Gillespie remains passionate about introducing students of diverse backgrounds to the fields of engineering and computing and the varied career paths students can pursue.

She and Ibrahim Baggili, Ph.D., Elder Family Chair and founding director of the University’s Connecticut Institute of Technology (CIT), developed the University’s Technology|Innovation|Experience|Discovery (TIED) program to offer current high school students the opportunities she wished she had when she was a student.

"We want to encourage any student who wants to explore technology as a career path to become a TIED student"Stephanie Gillespie, Ph.D.

The program enables high school students to learn about careers in cybersecurity, a rapidly growing field. Dr. Gillespie hopes it will offer valuable opportunities for high school students to learn about the field before beginning college.

“Many high schools offer a variety of college-credit opportunities in a variety of avenues,” she explains. “However, there are sometimes limited opportunities to earn college credit in STEM fields. High school students who don’t have opportunities available to them through their own high school or who are looking for an opportunity to learn more about technology in a university environment to see if college is right for them can benefit from the TIED program.”

'Our approach is scalable to students anywhere in the world'

The CIT is offering three courses – “Introduction to Computer Security,” “Introduction to Programming,” and “Discrete Math” – enabling students to earn transferable credits that can be applied to a degree at the University. Taught remotely, the courses enable high school students to explore cybersecurity and build connections with University faculty members and other students. Students should apply by August 6 for fall classes and opportunities.

“We need game-changing opportunities for diverse students,” said Dr. Baggili. “We conceived TIED to make college cheaper; set the students on a direct path to technology and computing degree programs that have a high return on investment; and make the admission process clearer to students.

“Connecticut and the entire country are in dire need of strongly technical computing and cybersecurity experts,” he continued. “We aim to achieve that by integrating our program into the high school experience. This is a unique program, and our approach is scalable to students anywhere in the world.”

'Discover technology without having to worry about whether they can put the computer back together'
Stephanie Gillespie, Ph.D.
Stephanie Gillespie, Ph.D.

Created for rising high school juniors and seniors of diverse backgrounds, the program offers small class sizes and a simplified admissions process for students to earn acceptance to the University and be part of the Tagliatela College of Engineering and CIT.

“We want to encourage any student who wants to explore technology as a career path to become a TIED student,” said Dr. Gillespie. “There is no expectation that students bring coding, mathematics, or analytical thinking into the courses we offer, though it is great if they have some of these skills already. The TIED program is about exploration and discovery, so anyone who is curious and wants to learn more is a good fit.”

The program, which offers scholarships, will provide a variety of opportunities for students to explore technology as a career path. Students will learn from guest speakers who are leaders in the field, take part in active and engaging learning opportunities, and learn about the resources at the CIT that allow students to explore fields such as artificial intelligence, hacking, and robotics.

“I am personally looking forward to helping students learn more about these in-demand career opportunities and fields of study,” said Dr. Gillespie. “I think this program can open doors to those who may be curious, but who may be reluctant to dive in without guidance and support. TIED helps students discover technology without having to worry about whether they can put the computer back together after taking it apart.”