Support for students interested in IT/cybersecurity continues to increase in Orange County thanks to a proactive partnership of the region’s Deputy Sector Navigator, community colleges, and high schools.
IT Fundamentals Exam Vouchers
Steve Linthicum, ICT-Digital Media Deputy Sector Navigator in Orange County has arranged for CompTIA to provide a number of exam vouchers to students interested in obtaining IT Fundamentals certification. Linthicum arranged this in exchange for his participation as a guest presenter for the course’s instructor training webinar.
Linthicum sees the value of incorporating the IT Fundamentals certification exam into IT/cybersecurity courses at the K-12 level, as it provides a foundation on which to build as students progress along the pathway toward a career in IT/cybersecurity.
“I’d love to see more regions incorporate the new IT Fundamentals certification exam into the CyberPatriot training for their local high schools and middle schools,” he said.
Linthicum is working with local high schools, including Troy High School in Fullerton, to develop curriculum in order to offer the IT Fundamentals course to students in the fall. The goal is for students to take the course, and then use an exam voucher to take the certification exam. Linthicum expects that students will be motivated to continue testing for and receiving industry certifications that are required by employers.
The IT Fundamentals course content won’t be solely for the Orange County region, but will benefit all community colleges. “The content that the Orange County faculty produces this summer will be available at no cost for distribution to all faculty and teachers in the State,” said Linthicum.
Allen Stubblefield, Cyber Defense Teacher and Coach at Troy High School is excited about the prospect of providing his students with exam vouchers. “I have 32 students that would love to have a test voucher to take the certification test,” he said. “They scored 92 as a class on the in-class practice exam– they are ready!” (Note: of the 32 students who took the IT Fundamentals exam, 30 students passed and now hold this CompTIA certification.)
Many of Stubblefield’s students participate in the CyberPatriot program, a national cyber defense competition designed and officiated by the Air Force Association. In fact, a group of his students recently won the California Mayors Cyber Cup competition for the Orange County region and presented the trophy to Mayor Doug Chaffee, City of Fullerton.
National Cyber League
Participation in the National Cyber League (NCL) competitions at the community college level used to be, and still is, the next step on the pathway for students after high school. However, NCL recently announced that the program is now open to high school students.
To encourage students to participate, Coastline College has invited instructors with strong cyber programs to register themselves as coaches, and their students with appropriate skill level, to participate in the NCL competition this spring season.
The competition is similar to CyberPatriot, in that students can compete at any time and from anywhere during the competition weekend. However, students compete individually, rather than as a team. The challenges consist of “capture the flag” games which include computer forensics, cryptography, penetration testing, web security, network administration, and more.
Coastline is working with the high schools to cover the registration fees for the three rounds of competition this spring. Next year, Linthicum has funding to pay for high school juniors and seniors as well as community college students to participate at no cost in the NCL competitions.
Linthicum says this kind of support is needed to guide students into a career in technology. “As we encourage participation in cybersecurity competitions and industry recognized certifications, and where appropriate utilize dual enrollment, we will increase the number of students seeking to follow this pathway right out of high school.”