January 8, 2024

Cybersecurity Management Major Presents Senior Thesis to PMI Keystone Chapter

4 Minutes

Senior Cybersecurity Management major Natilie Mccallick (Front Royal, VA) presented her senior thesis on the cybersecurity project management tradeoffs in the Waterfall and Agile software development methods at the December meeting of the Keystone Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI) held at York College. 

Sharing Her Senior Thesis 

Natilie was given the opportunity to present through her enrollment in a project management course taught by her academic advisor, Dr. Tamara Schwartz, Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity and Business Administration, who also advocated for her.

“As the course was directly associated with the Project Management Institute (PMI), I made connections with some of the members within the organization. Fortunately, I was invited as the keynote speaker to one of their onsite events here in York,” she said. 

“In the Cybersecurity Senior Seminar, we stress the importance of sharing research in appropriate venues, and Natilie had stumbled into a project management challenge that frustrates cybersecurity professionals across the discipline,” said Schwartz. “She made real headway in defining where project management processes break down with respect to cyber risk. When the PMI asked me to suggest a speaker for their December meeting, I introduced them to Natilie. They loved her topic, because it is highly relevant for project management professionals, and it continues to be a challenge today.” 

Natilie’s senior thesis was an attempt to answer the question, “What are the differences between theory versus practice regarding mitigation within Waterfall and Agile software development?” Agile and Waterfall are popular project management methodologies for software development that are implemented by organizations with the hope of completing quality projects in a timely manner, according to Natilie. 

“My research focused on the product/service of software,” she said “Due to the nature of software development, different processes are required to complete these projects, as there are different types of risks associated with software. As Dr. James Norrie [Professor of Cybersecurity Management and Entrepreneurship] has put it, ‘Software is not just a product; it behaves more like a process as you must maintain software continually after its implementation.’ ”

Natalie cited in her thesis that in 2022, 83 percent of companies in the United States experienced a data breach. “Upon researching this topic, I discovered a general lack of comparative analysis on already established research regarding project management practices in cybersecurity or, more specifically, risk management, as well as nuances within terminology. I concluded that there is significant room for improvement in the risk management process regarding the use of Agile and Waterfall methodologies in software development and an apparent need for continued research on this subject.”

The inspiration for Natilie’s thesis came from her internship at Citizens Bank in Rhode Island during the summer of 2023. The experience also confirmed her choice to study Cybersecurity Management. 

“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “I was assigned to the Security Architecture team. It reinforced my interest in cybersecurity, and took the theory I had learned and put it into practice. My colleagues nurtured my desire to learn and supported me at every turn. 

“While I was there, I was able to obtain four company-specific certifications as well as help manage the optimization of their Cloud Financial Operations (FinOps). The experience is what inspired my senior thesis research as well as the direction of where I intend to go in my career.”

Engaged and Happy at York College

On campus, Natilie serves as a student ambassador for the Graham School of Business and as Vice President of Omicron Sigma Sigma, the national honor society for students and professionals in homeland security disciplines, which is also known as the Order of the Sword and Shield. She is also a member of WiSE (Women in Science/Engineering), the Rock Climbing Club, and the Deans Advisory Council. 

Natilie “stumbled upon” York during her college search. Encouraged by her parents to do so, she was looking outside of her home state of Virginia. Consider it luck or fate, she is very happy she landed at the College. 

“When I first visited York, I loved how the staff, students, and professors treated me and my never-ending questions,” she said. “I was so excited and hopeful after visiting York that I didn’t visit anywhere else. Now I have been here for almost five years and can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn’t accidentally stumbled upon the website during my senior year of high school.”