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Van Loan School IT Graduate Co-founds a Cybersecurity Company

Ryan Heidorn
A Master of Science in Information Technology from the Van Loan School at Endicott College can provide endless opportunities.

A Master of Science in Information Technology from the Van Loan School at Endicott College can provide endless opportunities.


Just ask alumnus Ryan Heidorn M’12.


Heidorn, who previously worked in Endicott’s academic technology department, met his future business partner, Scott Freedson, while earning his master’s degree at the Van Loan School. Together, they turned their shared interests in security and small business into an exciting new startup: Steel Root (, a cybersecurity company in Salem, Mass.


“The master’s program gave us a high-level understanding of IT strategy along with methods of aligning IT objectives with business objectives,” Heidorn said. “It took the technical interests and skills we had already honed and allowed us to think more broadly about how those could be applied to a business perspective.”


Heidorn originally went to college to pursue a career in politics and law, but an internship helped him realize that wasn’t the right path for him. Instead, he pursued a career in IT, which led to a master’s degree and the skills needed to co-found Steel Root in October 2015. 


His company helps small businesses with software, hardware, and services, allowing them to focus on their core business goals without the costly overhead of in-house IT infrastructure.


“The spirit of Van Loan is entrepreneurial,” said Director of IT Programs TJ Hanratty. “Ryan’s story is such a great example of this. He strategically applied his education, initiative, and ability to the development of a business model that is perfect for a growing market.”


And with more than 200,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs nationally, there’s a significant need for qualified professionals, which is one of the reasons why Ryan believes the Van Loan School program is so successful.  


“It helps you differentiate yourself from people who come out of school with a very specialized degree,” Ryan said. “As more jobs are lost to outsourcing and automation, I think that the broad and creative approach to technology an Endicott graduate degree offers will foster skills that can never be outsourced.”


While cybersecurity wasn’t a specific offering at the Van Loan School while Heidorn was there, it now is one of two specializations available in the homeland security program, along with emergency management.


Paul Joyce, director of the homeland security program, praised Heidorn for having the foresight to forge a path within cybersecurity, which is a booming field.


“It’s going to be an industry that continues to grow with opportunities in the future,” Joyce said. “That is why we think it’s an important program here for both the public and private sectors.”


The current M.S. in Information Technology program offers a general degree as well as a concentration in health and medical informatics—another growing career field—while the homeland security program launched its specialization in cybersecurity in fall 2017.