Cybersecurity Opportunities and Methods that Promote Access and Student Success

To meet the current need for cybersecurity professionals, opportunities for more diverse populations to obtain cybersecurity credentials and degrees must be available, leading to a more diverse workforce. The Cybersecurity Opportunities and Methods that Promote Access and Student Success project at Miami Dade College in Florida aims to meet this need by increasing the diversity of students entering the cybersecurity workforce. The project aims to (1) improve the understanding and evidence base regarding learning approaches and their impact on retention and completion of underrepresented students; (2) improve industry engagement through involvement with curriculum development; (3) increase the knowledge base on the effects of competency-based summer camps that result in industry-certification and continuation into a cybersecurity-related degree program of study; (4) increase recruitment, retention, and completion of underrepresented students in cybersecurity programs; (5) increase the number of students who complete a College Credit Certificate and/or an AS in cybersecurity who are employed in industry; and (6) create dual enrollment pathways that retain cybersecurity majors from high school to two-year colleges. The program will share pedagogical best-practices for underserved populations across the Miami Dade College system; with the surrounding school systems; via the National CyberWatch Center; and with other institutions across the nation, including existing and emerging Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Minority-Serving Institutions. and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

The project will adapt and evaluate materials and methods developed through the ATE National Center in Cybersecurity, CyberWatch, and other ATE projects. It aims to increase the number and diversity of students who complete a state approved one-year College Credit Certificate (CCC) and a two-year Associate in Science degree in cybersecurity. The overarching goal is to create the foundation for a seamless pipeline across two critical educational transitions: high school to college and college to workforce. The project aims to achieve this goal by implementing and evaluating the following objectives: (1) building the capacity of college faculty and high school teachers to provide relevant and up-to-date education in cybersecurity; (2) integrating instructional approaches into cybersecurity curriculum that have been shown to be effective in engaging and retaining diverse students; and (3) creating pathways into cybersecurity degree programs through dual-enrollment opportunities, a competency-driven boot camp, and certificate programs.

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