NSA/DHS endorse DCC cybersecurity program
SOURCE CITED: HOMELAND SECURITY NEWSWIRE
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe on last week praised Danville Community College for becoming the “first rural community college in Virginia” to earn a prestigious cybersecurity designation from the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DCC is now one of just four community colleges in Virginia to achieve this milestone, which the governor called “a very big deal” for both attracting new industry and securing digital information.
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe on last week praised Danville Community College for becoming the “first rural community college in Virginia” to earn a prestigious cybersecurity designation from the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“When you graduate from DCC now, you will have a cyber degree that is the best in the entire globe,” McAuliffe said during a ceremony on campus recognizing DCC’s designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education (CAE2Y). DCC is now one of just four community colleges in Virginia to achieve this milestone, which the governor called “a very big deal” for both attracting new industry and securing digital information.
“I want to thank Danville, because they have gone out and taken the lead on this,” McAuliffe said in his remarks, thanking DCC Cybercenter Director and Associate Professor Steven Carrigan by name for his year and a half of work spearheading the project. “It is not easy to get this designation.”
DCC says that the NSA/DHS designation enhances DCC’s existing Third Year Advanced Studies Cybersecurity Certificate program while promoting higher education in cyber defense, preparing a workforce pipeline of cybersecurity professionals, and reducing vulnerabilities in United States networks.
“Through foresight and innovation on the part of our faculty, DCC’s program will become a model for other community colleges in cybersecurity,” DCC President Dr. Bruce Scism said. “Professor Steve Carrigan and the team he assembled will help not only our local community and state, but our nation to stay safe both in the real world and in the virtual world. We have built both introductory and advanced certificates in cybersecurity and there are tremendous, exciting, high-paying employment opportunities waiting for graduates.”
DCC’s cybersecurity programs provide curricula that are mapped to DHS and NSA Cybersecurity Education Standards.
“Not only will this give DCC students access to important scholarship opportunities, internships, and employment recognition, it will also open doors for collaboration with industry and other institutions in this field of study including high school students looking towards a future career in cybersecurity,” said Cybersecurity Academic Program Director Steve Carrigan. “I also want to give special thanks and recognition to James Adkins, Rick Riddle, and John Wilt who all worked hard for over a year to help me successfully complete one of the biggest projects I have ever attempted. I truly appreciate all their hard work.”
During his announcement, McAuliffe quantified the high demand for technology and cybersecurity jobs in Virginia.
“We have many open jobs in Virginia today that we are not filling. Last year, 149,000 technology jobs were open in Virginia,” Governor McAuliffe said during the press conference. “As I stand here, we have 36,000 cyber jobs open right now. The starting pay is $88,000. You do not need a four-year degree. You can get five industry credentials right here at Danville Community College. We can get you hired the second you finish that up.”
Industry certifications offered through DCC cyber programs include CompTIA, Cisco, Microsoft, VMware, and NetApp. Companies that have hired DCC information technology program graduates include, Noblis, Microsoft, Tekabyte, Gamewood, Inc., the City of Danville, Pittsylvania County, Virginia Community College System, Virginia Bank and Trust, and American National Bank. Entry-level career positions include enterprise operations center analyst, security operations center analyst, network, technician, and network administrator. Mid-career transition positions include cybersecurity operations center analyst, firewall/cybersecurity infrastructure technician, cybersecurity vulnerability analyst, information systems cybersecurity compliance, network engineer, and network technology specialist.
Carrigan spoke during the press conference and highlighted the successes DCC students have already achieved through the information technology systems and cybersecurity programs.
“Some of the same folks who have graduated from this program are coming back to hire my graduates,” Carrigan explained. “To have graduates hiring graduates, to me, that’s full circle.”
David Willette of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and a DCCalumnus recently hired DCC Third Year Advanced Studies Cybersecurity student David Payne, who is now a system operator at HPE, where he monitors activities in a data center environment to ensure that everything is running as it should from a networking and server standpoint.
“This program has transformed into something that is very easy for a working adult to get into,” Payne said. “All classes are offered online and in the evenings, so we’re all able to work throughout the day, go home, and attend class. Not long after I enrolled in the program, I received a job offer from HPE. I would not be where I am today if not for Danville Community College’s information technology and cybersecurity programs. These programs have given me the skills and the know-how that I needed to turn what I love to do into a career.”
Payne graduated from DCC’s information technology systems two-year degree program last year and will complete the cybersecurity certificate program this summer.
“[DCC’s] ability to meet the increasing demands of the program criteria will serve the nation well in contributing to the protection of the National Information Infrastructure,” said NSA National CAEProgram Manager Karen Leuschner. “The Presidents’ National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace and the International Strategy for Cyberspace address the critical shortage of professionals with these skills and highlight the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace.”
Leuschner went on to quote the International Strategy for Cyberspace address in saying “Like all nations, the United States has a compelling interest in defending its vital national assets, as well as our core principles and values, and we are committed to defending against those who would attempt to impede our ability to do so.”
“Education is the key to promoting those ideals,” Leuschner explained.
Cyberattacks are on the rise globally, making cybersecurity in Virginia more important now than it has ever been.
“I talk about cybersecurity every single day. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, it’s about a) protecting your assets, and b) job creation,” Governor McAuliffe said. “Last year, we had 70 million cyberattacks in the Commonwealth of Virginia. That is one every four seconds. They are constantly trying to get into the state workforce, they want our data, they want the healthcare records that we have, they want our personal financial information, and they want the information that’s on our driver’s licenses. These are what cyber criminals do each and every day.”
McAuliffe explained that these types of jobs frequently don’t require relocating from southern Virginia.
“In certain parts of Virginia that have been hit through the years by the loss of coal, textiles, furniture, and tobacco, you don’t have to be in northern Virginia, where many of these cyber companies are, or Hampton Roads,” Governor McAuliffe said. “As long as you have access to the web, you can do these jobs anywhere. Companies would prefer to have [employees] in other places to broaden their infrastructure. Southside and southwestern Virginia can be cybersecurity hubs. As long as you have access to the web and as long as you can write code, you’re in. This is a big step in creating what I call the new Virginia economy.”
“DCC is excited to offer a full Cybersecurity Certificate, an Associate of Science degree in Information Systems Technology with a Cybersecurity Technician CSC as the focus, and to have the designation as a National Center of Excellence in Cyber Defense says volumes about the quality of the program,” said Dean of Business, Engineering, and Technology Jimmie Tickle.
DCC’s cybersecurity certificate program is taught online with live instructors and remote access to lab environments.