Ethical Hacking students keep it in the family
It was a case of role reversal when Ian Elder watched his son graduate from Abertay last week.
His son John Elder, 29, was awarded an MSc in Ethical Hacking and Computer Security at the Caird Hall – a feat he achieved while working full-time as an engineer in the oil and gas industry.
Among the family members watching John pick up his qualification was his dad, Ian Elder, 64, who had been so inspired by what he was hearing from his son during his studies, he decided to enrol on the course, too.
Ian, 64, said, ‘I worked as a control systems engineer in Kazakhstan on a month-on-month-off basis. While I was home, I’d often give John a run down to Dundee from where we live, just north of Aberdeen. It was mainly to give him a break from the driving, but we would talk about what he was doing and it sounded really interesting.
‘I retired earlier this year and spoke to Abertay about the possibility of enrolling on the course. They seemed happy, so I joined.
‘A lot of what I did as an engineer has similarities to IT security, so it isn’t a completely new thing to get my head around.’
Talking about following in his son’s footsteps, Ian said, ‘He doesn’t help me with coursework, but that is by choice. I want to do my own thing, but obviously we discuss things and I’d say there is definitely a bit of friendly rivalry.
‘I’ve always been full of encouragement for what John has done. I’m glad he spotted that some areas of the oil industry are struggling, and decided to diversify his skills.
‘I was very proud to see him graduate, and hopefully he’ll be here this time next year to watch me graduate, too.’
John said combining his studies with full-time work wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.
‘It was tough. While my employer agreed to sponsor me financially through the degree, I still had to work a full working week. I would attend work in the morning, then have a three-hour round trip for afternoon and evening classes at Abertay. It has been well worth it, though.’
John added that his dad joining him on the course is a complete role reversal of how he got into engineering.
‘My Dad has been a control systems engineer for longer than I've been alive. It was his interest and passion in that field that led to me following in his footsteps. He has always been interested in all things computer related and I would frequently update him on what I had been studying any given week in a semester. It was his curiosity to find out more about what I was talking about that compelled him to study the course.’
Abertay is the only university in the UK to offer a Masters programme in Ethical Hacking. The programme is run by Abertay’s School of Arts, Media and Computer Games.