Enhancing Network and Cybersecurity Technician Careers in Collaboration with Industry

The region surrounding Waco, Texas, has a growing demand for networking and cybersecurity technicians. In collaboration with industry partners, this project at McLennan Community College aims to address this need by integrating cybersecurity into the current Computer Information Systems (CIS) program. The CIS program includes curriculum leading to certificates and associate degrees. The project will focus on (a) teaching technical and employability skills at the college and at regional high schools through dual credit programs and (b) transforming curriculum and pedagogy to help all students progress through educational pathways beginning in the high school and continuing through McLennan Community College. These pathways will enable the revised CIS curriculum to provide multiple entry and exit points to develop the competencies and knowledge needed by industry. This alignment with industry needs can help meet regional needs for a skilled workforce, enhancing future growth in the community and providing higher paying careers for students. The student population at McLennan Community College includes a substantial percentage of low income and Hispanic students, many of whom have limited expectations of a technology career. Consequently, this program has the potential to broaden participation of diverse people in advanced technical careers.

This project will enable the college to offer an updated CIS program that can meet the needs of students for cybersecurity training or certifications. To achieve these results, the project will: (a) develop coursework that scaffolds learning and supports student advancement; (b) promote networking and cybersecurity opportunities by using culturally contextualized student/parent awareness programs and professional development for high school and college faculty and advisors; and (c) work with industry to promote career opportunities in networking and cybersecurity. Students in this program will be able to earn certifications including A+, Security+, Network +, Cisco CCENT, or CCNA certifications in one or more areas. These certifications will increase students? employability and make them more qualified as employees. The project plan builds on the work of three existing ATE Cybersecurity Centers (CSSIA, CyberWatch and CyberWatch West) and will add to that body of knowledge. The project?s industry partners have committed to defining the CIS/cybersecurity knowledge, skills and abilities needed to meet their workforce needs, which in turn will inform development of the revised CIS curriculum. The industry partners will also help students prepare for future careers by offering internships and job shadowing opportunities. As one of the 12 college systems in Texas selected in the first cohort of the Texas Pathways Project (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's 60x30TX initiative), the project will build on and coordinate with those state-wide efforts.

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