Information Communication Technologies & Digital Media Sector Team

A pilot program in the South Central Coast Region paved the way for community colleges to offer training for IT professionals working in advanced manufacturing. The training fills a critical workforce need for completing audits required for all Department of Defense subcontractors.

The curriculum provides training for the Department of Defense/Defense Federal Acquisition Reregulation Supplement (DFARS), as well as CompTIA certifications and entrepreneur/entrepreneur training. Most of the content is available online through Practice Labs and ITProTV.

Paula Hodge, ICT-DM Deputy Sector Navigator in the South Central Coast Region, began working on the curriculum after identifying the need for IT/cybersecurity audit professionals in advanced manufacturing. Hodge, along with project manager Ron McFarland, worked with industry representatives to ensure that the curriculum would meet their needs.

The DFARS audit is required for all Department of Defense subcontractors, but many organizations did not have the personnel to complete it. Hodge saw an opportunity to combine DFARS-specific training with certifications and training that the colleges already offered to create a training module that does more than just prepare students to complete a specific task.

The full curriculum takes up to 144 hours, or only about 24 hours for students who already hold the Security+ certification. The audit follows the NIST 800-171 requirements and results in the completion of a set of DOD/DFARS audit forms, identification of a security plan, and creation of a required action plan.

The pilot in the South Central Coast Region began in December and included students and industry professionals from a variety of backgrounds, and was well received.

“The DFARS training I received was absolutely everything I needed in order to be successful and competent performing compliance assessments,” said Kenneth May, CEO of Swift Chip, Inc.  “I highly recommend it for anyone who works in this area.”

Following its completion in March, Hodge shared the curriculum with DSNs in the ICT-DM and Advanced Manufacturing sectors.

“There’s a real need for this type of content out there,” Hodge said. “DFARS is new, but everything else is re-engineering what we already had, which is why we were able to get it up and running so quickly.” 

Students at Oxnard College will benefit from Professor Albert Wolfkiel’s participation in the training. “I participated in the DFARs course as a community college cyber security instructor, said Wolfkiel. “The course improved my ability to relate the cyber security skills demanded by local defense contractors to students who are working towards a cyber security career. If demand for NIST 800-171 audits increases as expected, Oxnard College will be able to offer courses to train cyber security auditors to help businesses secure their networks and ensure DoD supply chains are not disrupted by cyber attacks.”

For more information about DFARS, contact Paula Hodge at paula.hodge@canyons.edu.