Working with industry, high school, and college partners, this project aims to create a model for a work study-based associates degree in Information Technology. To accomplish this goal, the project will complete three specific aims. First, it will establish an industry-aligned work study model for information technology education. The program of study will align with flexible industry-recognized apprenticeship approaches and enable students to synergistically learn and earn. The curriculum will be designed to provide foundational science, technology, engineering, and mathematics knowledge, balanced with specific technology competencies. The second specific aim is to establish a dual credit information technology pathway for high school students, with professional development to enable high school teachers to teach the dual credit courses. The third specific aim is to publish a technical guide to facilitate replication of the program and pilot the program at Marion Technical College in Ohio. The project has the potential to produce a replicable, flexible work study program designed for the information technology industry that could be implemented nationwide. As a result, it will contribute to building capacity in the nation's cybersecurity workforce.

The project goal is to leverage a collaboratively-developed and industry-led curriculum, leading to the creation, pilot, and scaling of an experiential learning model for students in Information Technology (IT) pathways starting in cybersecurity. An Associate Degree in Cybersecurity will be adapted to incorporate the work study experience. Work study orientation in the first year of the program and work study opportunities in the second year will prepare students to enter the workforce upon graduation. Wrap around services, including a comprehensive orientation and intrusive advising will inform students about the details of the program, and support them as they progress through it. Flexible schedules and learning experiences will facilitate student/employer interactions. With guidance from industry, essential skills and job tasks will be identified and moved earlier in the program of study to better prepare students for their work study experiences. Work study placements will include production-level roles that are re-conceptualized to support student completion of a two-year degree. To support veterans, current military codes and skills will be mapped to the curriculum and the project team will provide training and strategies for supporting military and veteran students in the classroom. Following development of the cybersecurity work study model, the program will be scaled to other IT pathways. The project team will collaborate with regional high schools to engage students in IT dual credit pathways. A Cyber Institute recruiting event will raise awareness of and interest in cybersecurity and IT, as well as recruit students into the program. Project components include conducting work readiness activities and providing competency-based modules to high school teachers to credential them to teach dual credit IT courses. The project will develop products that will be disseminated to other institutions, including a new industry-led replicable work study model in IT pathways, Early IT Pathways Initiative for high school, and a technical guide for replication and piloting at other institutions nationwide.

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