Alumnus Engineering Solutions Through Cybersecurity
By Trisha Ratledge
A tinkerer by nature, Ryan Miller always had an interest in computers and technology — building home computers, playing video games, really any kind of problem-solving with a twist of science.
His technical skills made Miller well-suited to an initial career in his dad’s auto body repair business, but when it was time to look long term, he went back to his roots and back to school. After earning an associate degree in computer science, Miller transferred to Cal State San Marcos to earn a BS in computer science. As an undergraduate, he also learned about the university’s new MS in Cybersecurity: Professional Science Master’s degree.
“It was a new field and something that was leading-edge,” Miller said. “I knew there would be a good opportunity to find a career in that field.”
Blending science and business expertise
With his bachelor’s degree checked off, Miller entered the MS in Cybersecurity: PSM program and also started working full-time as a software engineer. CSUSM’s cybersecurity graduate program uniquely combines advanced science and technical courses, MBA-level business courses and real-world experience to help students develop both industry and leadership skills.
“The nonscience courses prepared me well for my current role,” said Miller, who is now a cybersecurity systems engineer for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. “We had classes where we learned about business continuity and disaster recovery, and classes where we learned how to create policies and how to present to upper management. I can use something from every course I took.”
Of course, science and technology drive Miller’s career trajectory and he regularly draws on the cybersecurity skills he has developed in networking, code analysis, cryptography, algorithms and more. At General Atomics, Miller works with the Risk Management Framework (RMF) – a structured process used to identify, measure, minimize and monitor risks to an information system – which is applied to products that Miller’s cybersecurity group develops for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy.
Along with following the RMF process, Miller performs system integration functions in which he has worked hands-on with the ground control station, the pilot cockpit for an unmanned air vehicle.
“I’ve had challenges where it’s taken me months to troubleshoot and figure out, ‘Why is this one radio communication channel not working?’ ” Miller said. “There is a sense of accomplishment in really learning the part of the system you are working on and finally coming up with a solution to a difficult problem.”
Room for growth
Because innovation is key to problem-solving and product development, Miller said his position will grow with the times.
“The needs for the Department of Defense are constantly changing, which obviously changes what we’re working on,” he said. “We are also trying to develop and predict future capabilities. In my position, there’s a lot of room for growth.”
And while his position focuses on technology, the end user is always top of mind for Miller.
“I know that the products we make are protecting the service men and women who are out there on the front lines,” he said. “Our main goal is to keep coming up with new technologies and advancing our current technologies to help protect them, to help save lives. In the end, when you know that something you worked on is helping better someone’s life or their safety, that’s really rewarding.”
For more information on the MS in Cybersecurity: Professional Science Master’s degree, please visit csusm.edu/el/cyber.
Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist
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