Axtman turns childhood passion into promising career

By Emily Schmidt
University Communications Student Assistant

MINOT, N.D. – With the increasing use of technology in professional fields comes the need for protection of important online information.  Luckily for Alex Axtman, Minot State offered him a degree program that could turn his interest in computers into a lucrative future.

“I’ve always been into computers since I was a kid,” he said, “My mom had a laptop and I’d mess around with it. This was back when I was 8 or 9, and I screwed around on it all the time. I just continued to do it, and I still do it.”

When Axtman started at Minot State as a computer science major, the cybersecurity program was in the works.  Since its recent announcement, he decided it would be smart to add that as a second major.

“I heard talks about it, and I was kind of interested in going that general direction since that’s kind of how the tracks are set up,” he said. “The one I'm doing is computer security, so it leans more towards cybersecurity stuff anyway, and based on as far as I've gotten already, I think it's worth it to get both as opposed to just switching. In the end, it’s going to be roughly only six extra classes.”

Although there is a lot of overlap between the two majors, Axtman noticed that cybersecurity offered a more hands-on experience.

“I think there’s just going to be a lot of more interesting classes that won’t just be theory, but there will be a lot more practice in them,” he said. “Like one class I'm in now is Ethical Hacking, and there’s a lab where we can practice in a closed environment to so some kind of attacks and stuff. One thing we did is made a fake Facebook that looks legitimate, or websites have security certificates that show they’re legit, so we made those too. Then you have an understanding of what the bad guys are doing. If you can understand it, it is easy to educate against it as well as to try and prevent it.”

With a zero percent unemployment rate and upwards of 3.5 million available jobs in cybersecurity by 2021, according to Cybersecurity Ventures, Axtman will not have to work too hard to find a job that will utilize his degree.

“I’m looking for something like a cyber engineer, almost. Trying to work on systems and prevent attacks and make sure that they’re safe for users and that their information is in good hands,” he said. “I think it’s a lot of interesting work, and there are a lot of interesting careers, like there’s a lot of government work. You have a wide variety of what you can do and what you can specialize in. You’re in a position where, because the job market is growing, you’re valued and your skills are valued, so you almost get treated with more respect. You’re not just a resource who can be tossed and replaced easily.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 03/13/20   

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