As a first-generation Asian American and an alumnus of the First State’s University of Delaware, Devarshi Patel knows a lot about firsts. And now, Patel has added another first to his list as he has become the first ever graduate of UD’s master of science dual degree program in business analytics and information management (BAIM) and cybersecurity.
“It is a privilege to be the first graduate of this amazing program,” said Patel, who grew up in Camden, Delaware and completed his bachelor of science in information systems as part of UD’s Class of 2018. “I hope more students interested in business and technology find their way to this M.S. program because I truly believe it provides the best of both worlds.”
Patel said that he was drawn to the dual degree program, which is offered as a collaboration between UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics and UD’s College of Engineering, because of his active interest in technology.
“After completing a technology internship for one of the largest banks in 2018, I realized which areas of tech were gaining popularity,” Patel said. “The three main areas of tech that are on an upward trend are big data, cybersecurity and cloud computing. I decided that I wanted to focus on particular areas of technology that I knew would last indefinitely and continue to rapidly advance.”
On his time in the new program, Patel said: “I had an opportunity to meet a lot of great students and professors and learn from some of the most knowledgeable instructors from both Lerner and the College of Engineering.” He added that his favorite part of the program was his experience “working on team projects with real-world applications.”
Now that he has graduated as part of the Class of 2020, Patel hopes to begin a full-time position in the cybersecurity and/or information security industries. This summer, he also worked with a friend to start a business, Iterics.io, which creates websites for small businesses.
Regardless of his next step, Patel’s future is bright, said Chase Cotton, a professor in UD’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering who works closely with the dual degree program. Cotton taught Patel in several cybersecurity classes and said that it’s “really exciting” for the new dual degree program to have its first graduate.
Cotton also said that the program has been running “quite smoothly” so far, adding that “because today’s world has an increased focus on cybersecurity, we find the Lerner BAIM students wanting to further reinforce their IT knowledge in the cyber domain.”
Students like Patel who have this unique and specialized qualification, Cotton explained, are well prepared to join a number of fields and career paths.
“In today’s world, almost any technical, business or healthcare student needs to be introduced to those aspects of their future careers that will be impacted by cybersecurity needs and issues,” Cotton said. “Since a large fraction of the IT workforce enters the business via a MIS path, it is very useful to let them add needed cybersecurity knowledge and skills to their IT foundations.”
Andrea Everard, Lerner College associate dean of undergraduate programs and professor of MIS, provided additional insight on this distinctive partnership between colleges and the benefits it provides to students in providing core and advanced courses from both colleges.
“Students get the best of both degrees, with a more in-depth coverage in cybersecurity,” Everard explained. “Discussion with potential employers revealed a need for graduates not only equipped with training in cybersecurity but also able to understand the business environment where these skills would be applied. Controlling organizational risks and managing security threats requires not only the more technical aspects of cybersecurity (provided through the College of Engineering) but also, very importantly, an understanding of what is required for the successful implementation and management of IT in business.”