NEW LONDON, Conn. — The U.S. Coast Guard Academy is now offering an academic program in cyber systems, its first new major in a quarter century.
The program beginning this fall reflects the maritime service's evolution toward conducting operations in cyberspace as it does at sea and by air, said Capt. Lee Petty, chief of the Coast Guard's Office of Cyberspace Forces in Washington.
"This is a new domain and we're approaching it in a similar vein as we do in these physical domains," Petty said.
The head of Coast Guard Atlantic Area has been nominated to be the Coast Guard’s next top officer, replacing the outgoing Adm. Paul Zukunft.
The academy in New London is opening a cyber lab with dedicated servers, a new laboratory and a specially designed classroom to support the program. Kurt Colella, the academy's dean of academics, said the program will incorporate elements of fields including policy, law, ethics, operating systems, software design and intelligence.
Cadets attend the academy tuition-free and graduate as Coast Guard officers with a bachelor of science degree and a requirement to spend five years in the service. Nearly 300 students enroll annually.
The new academic program is the first since the addition of mechanical engineering as a major in 1993.
The U.S. Naval Academy has seen a big increase in cyber operations majors, and a U.S. senator said Monday that midshipmen could be useful in working on cyber challenges before they graduate.
Last year was the first time that new graduates from the academy were assigned to the Coast Guard's cyber command. Some graduates who major in cyber systems will report to the same command, while others will report to the fleet, Petty said.
The academy also has a cyber team that participates in competitions among service academies organized by the National Security Agency. It operates as a club sports team.
A Coast Guard cyber strategy issued in 20015 identified strategic priorities of defending cyberspace by protecting the service’s information technology networks, enabling operations by applying cyber knowledge to its traditional missions and protecting infrastructure that’s critical to maritime transportation systems.