Debra McCusker, an IT Systems (Cyber) Security instructor at Alamance Community College, participated in a virtual roundtable discussion with other community college representatives on the topic of cyber education on October 29.
The North Carolina Cybersecurity Workforce Training – Education Virtual Roundtable was sponsored by the offices of NC Senators Burr and Tillis, along with the NC Military Business Center; it highlighted North Carolina community college cyber programs and gave directors an opportunity to discuss collaboration and information sharing.
McCusker is Project Manager for the College’s Center of Academic Excellence-Cyber Defense (CAE-CD). At the roundtable, she offered an overview of ACC’s cybersecurity degree program and shared how active both faculty and students have been in completing hands-on projects, competing in cyber games, and sharing expertise with area schools and the community.
ACC is one of several North Carolina higher education institutions that have cybersecurity courses and programs to help position, grow, and provide opportunities for a cyber workforce of the future. Although every CAE-CD school communicates the same core foundational knowledge units, ACC’s location and demographics has motivated it to leverage the topic as it intertwines with regional employers in healthcare services, materials handling, and light manufacturing.
According to reports, approximately 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs will need skilled workers around the world by the year 2021. North Carolina will be home to many of those vacant positions as the tech industry is poised to grow 10.4 percent over the next four years.
Businesses and industry everywhere are facing a new reality: connecting medical, industrial, and personal devices exposes them to the outside world, making them vulnerable for intercept, corruption, or deactivation. ACC’s IT cybersecurity program emphasizes a cyber operations skillset so that students can becomes triage specialists who monitor, assess, and thwart threats.
In addition to Alamance Community College, panelists participated from Forsyth Technical Community College, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Sampson Community College, North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, and Duke University.