The program is forward-thinking, relevant and needed.
In 1997, a bill is passed for funding and Skynet goes online. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense and artificial intelligence becomes self-aware. Sound familiar? It’s the fictional plotline for the “Terminator” series. In the movie, things go horribly wrong, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a bad robot, then a good one, and the whole thing makes millions of dollars as Americans flock to see the newest twists complete with time travel. The first “Terminator” movie came out in 1984, way before smart devices hit the consumer market.
Fast-forward to today and truth could not be closer to fiction as technology has moved at such a rapid pace that gadgets now have their own cloud network and language as they speak to each other and collect info on us, daily. The difference from the fictional “Terminator” story and the story we’re living today is that Skynet could never happen—we now have professionals who manage the cloud network in the Internet of Things (IoT), and Florida International University is the first university in the US to offer a bachelor’s degree to fill this need with a four-year degree in IoT. The revolutionary program launches Fall Semester, 2018, and it’s offered fully online in the cloud, naturally.
It’s the network
“IoT is the new frontier,” says Dr. Alexander Pons, professor within the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. “You see so much cross-discipline success and the applications for the degree are numerous as the medical, transportation, and government sectors continually add new technology.”
What exactly is IoT? Those unfamiliar with the tech world may not know that this is jargon for the network of smart devices like phones, voice-activated smart speakers, security systems, appliances, watches, cameras, or even medical equipment and wearables. This is a growing area outside of programming, engineering and hardware—it’s the complex web of communication between devices and how they link and work together to improve how we live, drive, heal, lose weight or remember to pick up milk at the store.
Who’s hiring and for what?
One area that’s hot includes the wearables industry, such as Fitbits® and heart monitors, and we’re only at the beginning of an industry that’s about to explode. Along those lines, about 20 billion IoT devices are projected to be used throughout the world in about five years, according to reports. With this device proliferation, the job market for graduates with specific IoT knowledge is projected to grow exponentially as forward-thinking companies are already looking precisely for trained individuals. In fact, the list of companies seeking IoT trained individuals reads like a who’s who of the Fortune 500—Amazon, IBM, HP, Honeywell, Cisco Systems. The jobs they’re looking to fill? A small sampling of titles includes Embedded Engineer, IoT Hardware Engineer, IoT Software Engineer, and IoT Technical Architect.
“This is a highly flexible degree with a large range of real-world uses,” says Dr. Pons, who explained that students entering the program today are studying for jobs that may not even exist today, but will be created within the next years. “We’re at the very beginning of something that will be taking off.”
Do you like devices?
FIU’s online IoT program is for anyone with an affinity for technology and interest in devices, however, professors underscore that programming is a cornerstone or centralized topic within the program. Additionally, while the degree covers technology, it is not an IT or engineering program, though, there are IT and engineering components or overlaps within the program with regard to the network, cloud computing and security. In other words, the IoT program is a little of everything. Graduates of the FIU Online IoT program will understand how to install devices, maintain them and secure them. IoT pros essentially answer the following questions: “How does it work?”; “What can I do with it?”; “How do I protect it and its information?”; and “How does it work in the cloud?”
Going further, Dr. Kemal Akkaya, the IoT Program coordinator, mentions that the program covers four fundamental areas for IoT:
- Hardware: This general includes processor, sensor and memory functions.
- Programming: This includes how to use or manipulate embedded software.
- Cybersecurity/privacy: Wireless communications are in the cloud, which means they need to be secured, so IoT grads will have to know how to protect users and companies from this kind of liability.
- Wireless communications: Ensuring effective links is paramount as smart devices can’t work if they’re not set up correctly, wirelessly.
The need is there
As technology advances, device integration, smart cities, and smart homes will become the norm. While consumers use these billions of devices to improve and enhance their quality of life, little do they realize that the electronics they rely on have computation, communication, sensing, and storage capabilities that have some implications about their use and vulnerabilities with cloud computing and data collection. In specific, the rising use of these smart devices increases concerns regarding machine-to-machine communication, privacy issues as well as hacking.
In the wake of these mounting concerns, companies need trained IoT pros who can navigate not only the network of these devices but the management of data collected. FIU Online IoT graduates will be educated with the most relevant information and contemporary best practices so they can anticipate and block breaches.
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), there are currently 285,681 job openings in cybersecurity in Florida and there are 746,858 employees with cybersecurity jobs in Florida. As for the combined Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach areas, the total available openings is 3,235, while the total employed cybersecurity workforce is 9,960.
“Cybersecurity will only grow further and further and we have a great chance as an institution and department to contribute to this growth, significantly. With degrees in IoT and our initiatives in cybersecurity, we are going in the right direction,” surmised Dr. Pons.
The IoT program is a 120-credit-hour degree and its myriad of electives will offer choice. In addition, the department is looking to partner with certain organizations like CISCO and trades like the cruise and hospitality industries to offer graduates additional certifications.
Like the “Terminator” movies, FIU is ahead of its time, nevertheless, the university’s real-life story is far more compelling as we prepare for the reality that is already here and the artificial intelligence that is to come. To borrow a famous line from Schwarzenegger in the “Terminator” film, FIU’s online degree in IoT makes our collective new normal “No Problemo.”
For more information about the program, visit http://fiuonline.fiu.edu/IOT