As technology continues to evolve, IT faculty throughout the South Central Coast Region have realized that the Certified Information System Security Officer and Professional (CISSO/CISSP) industry certifications competencies are an essential part of what they need to teach regarding cybersecurity.

With support from Deputy Sector Navigator Paula Hodge, five faculty and IT professionals from four colleges in the region attended CISSO/CISSP training at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s California Cybersecurity Institute (CCI) in January.

Ed Garcia, an IT instructor at Moorpark College, said the training provided him with a clear insight on the CISSP curriculum and what’s required to pass the exam.

“This exam is one of the most prestigious security exams and one of the most sought-after trainings in the United States,” Garcia said. “Employers place great emphasis on hiring cybersecurity professionals who have passed this coveted CISSP exam.”

Alex Lynch, Computer Networking/IT Instructor and Department Chair at Oxnard College earned his CISSO certification as a result of attending the training.

“It’s important that IT programs in the California Community Colleges enhance and grow their cybersecurity offerings because there is a huge shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals,” he said. “In order for the training to be high caliber, the trainer needs to be up to date and hold cybersecurity certifications which validate the aptitude of the trainer.”

Beyond the technical knowledge, spending five days together onsite at Cal Poly provided an opportunity for faculty and staff to break down silos and learn from each other, and from industry professionals who attended the training with them.

“It brought synergy,” Hodge said. “Attendees are Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) professionals from the South Central Coast Region, who want to remain technically relevant in their chosen occupation of faculty, IT staff within a college and local IT workforce.”

“Everything was top shelf from the training resources to the trainer,” Lynch said. “It was also a great location at the CCI at Camp San Luis Obispo.”

Garcia encourages other faculty to consider attending this training or similar programs and emphasized that CISSP/CISSO focuses on more than just technical details.

“CISSP provides training from a managerial perspective, meaning it provides students with a broader understanding of policy, process, and procedures that need to be in place when effectively securing an organization,” Garcia said. “The CISSP focuses on organizational deployment strategies related to all aspects of security.”

This training opportunity is just one way that Hodge works to bring faculty and staff from her region together. She also hosts quarterly meetings of ICT, faculty, high school teachers, and industry partners throughout her region.

“It’s all about being local – people who know each other want to work together,” Hodge said. “You are providing a place to convene, bringing up the topics that are most in-demand within the region.”

Both Garcia and Lynch have seen first-hand how Hodge’s leadership has enabled the region’s colleges to offer technology programs that are in high demand, which better supports students.

“Paula has been hosting regional meetings for many years now,” said Garcia. “Faculty from our college consortium work together and follow Paula’s recommendations in developing curriculum, obtaining new skills, or sharing new ideas.”

“Paula is playing a huge role in enhancing and expanding IT and cybersecurity courses at our respective colleges in the South Central Coast Regional Consortium,” said Lynch. “The benefits of this valuable cybersecurity training go from the faculty member, to the program, to the course, to the student, and ultimately to the employer.”

The knowledge from the five-day onsite training will be shared at their ICT regional meetings and opportunities to host train-the-trainer sessions with their colleagues throughout the region.