Working with Industry to Incorporate Cybersecurity into Networking Programs

There is an increasing need for information technology and networking technicians who have expertise in cybersecurity. To meet this need, community colleges must work collaboratively with industry to develop programs that can educate more workers with these skills. This project at Spartanburg Community College aims to decrease the shortage of skilled technicians trained in network/cybersecurity technology in the Upstate South Carolina region. The project's leadership team will include regional industry employers, with the goal of developing a networking/cybersecurity curriculum that meets the needs of area employers. To ensure that future IT workers keep up with new developments, Spartanburg Community College will enhance the current Associate of Applied Science in Information/Network Technology by adding cybersecurity components. This addition can help prepare students for modern challenges facing network and cybersecurity professionals. In addition, these network/cybersecurity skills will increase their competitiveness for IT technician jobs. Recruitment activities include giving high school members of Cyber Patriot teams an option to attend Spartanburg Community College to pursue a cybersecurity career. In addition, undecided majors at the college will be encouraged to talk with faculty about career opportunities in networking/cybersecurity. Finally, the co-principal investigators, who are both veterans, will work with veteran groups within the college and greater community. Many students in these groups are members of underserved populations, who could benefit from increased employment opportunities following completion of the enhanced networking/cybersecurity degree. The program model will be shared with other colleges and universities via conference presentations and through website updates. This information has the potential to help small to mid-sized schools improve education for cybersecurity technicians, reach out to underserved populations, and meet industry demand.

The program will leverage the experience and knowledge of regional business leaders, who will serve as the Business and Industry Leadership Team. The involvement of potential employers has the potential to enhance an existing educational model by including cybersecurity content. Program activities include: 1) creating and expanding the Business and Industry Leadership Team; 2) aligning the existing AAS curriculum with industry needs by adding cybersecurity concepts to existing courses and developing two new cybersecurity courses; 3) providing faculty with professional development needed to teach the enhanced curriculum effectively; and 4) using recruitment and retention activities to reach out to populations that will benefit from expanded educational opportunities. Engaging in new processes with the Cyber Patriot program will allow the college to reach underserved populations. The project aims create an advanced Associate in Applied Science program in Information/Network Technology that uniquely serves the needs of upstate South Carolina.

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