Cyber Security Operations Center Opens at USC Aiken

Aiken, SC (09/29/2022) — Students majoring in cybersecurity at the University of South Carolina Aiken (USC Aiken) now have the opportunity to gain hands-on work experience in the Security Operations Center (SOC).

A primary objective of the SOC is to provide cybersecurity students with Tier 1 SOC Analyst work experience. Having this experience will allow students to enter the workforce with the qualifications to perform Tier 2 Analyst work.

The SOC will provide a teaching lab for students and help to secure the network at USC Aiken. The center is also partnering with the Information Security Office at USC Columbia on this new cyber initiative.

"This SOC will be the first of its kind for a comprehensive university in the USC System," Ernest Pringle, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and CIO, said. "We will hire two staff security analysts and three students who will receive course credit. We already have a cadre of students who have some cyber experience, and this Security Operations Center will give our students the technical hands-on experience that employers like SRNS and Fort Gordon are seeking."

Students that are selected to work in the SOC will be provided with practical work experience that compliments what they are learning in their courses.

"Most of this is new compared to what we're learning in class. The things we learn in class are theoretical and high level," said Adam Boese, a cybersecurity student and worker in the SOC. "This is our first opportunity to get to work with the tools that we're learning about and put what we learn into practice."

The goal is for cybersecurity professors, staff and students to analyze incoming data and activities either independently or with USC Columbia to prevent cyber-attacks before they happen.

Joshua Yates, a cybersecurity student and worker in the SOC, said that students learn the backbone of programming in their classes, but those that work in the SOC get to apply what they have learned in their courses to real-time incidents.

Chris Clark, Director of Technology Operations, will oversee the day-to-day activities of the new center.

"You'd be surprised how common phishing and cybersecurity attacks happen on campus. One day it might be Berlin, the next China," Clark said. "From their SOC stations, our students will be able to assess and analyze 24-7 live information and learn critical life skills for the future."

The center has already attracted the attention of many students at USC Aiken and Clark said he hopes to continue growing the program. Currently, there are three student workers in the SOC, but as the program grows that number is expected to increase.

USC Aiken offers a Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Science with a concentration in Cybersecurity and students are eligible to receive a SANS Technology Institute certification in Cybersecurity, (ACS). After receiving the certificate, 93% of students are employed within six months with an average salary of $91,000.

For more information about USC Aiken's Applied Computer Science program please visit

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Chris Clark and Ernest Pringle pose with student workers in the new Security Operations Center.