Information Communication Technologies & Digital Media Sector Team

Cypress College and Long Beach City College (LBCC) recently became the second and third California Community Colleges to receive the National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE) from the National Security Agency (NSA). The designations are valid through the 2023 academic year and were awarded following a rigorous application process.

Students graduating from these colleges will receive a certificate from the NSA and Department of Homeland Security indicating that they attended a CAE institution. The CAE designation will help further enhance California’s contribution toward filling the open cybersecurity positions throughout the U.S.

“It’s anticipated that there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021,” said LBCC President Dr. Reagan Ferragamo Romali. “LBCC is well-positioned as the best place for students to help fill this labor gap in the next three years. Certain cyber-defense positions within the government require a certificate from a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. Our students will now be eligible for these well-paying jobs and be part of the team defending our government and other institutions from cyber-attacks.”

In 2017, Cypress College started a Pathway to Advancement in Cybersecurity Education (PACE) program, which is modeled on Guided Pathways. PACE introduces students to dual enrollment courses from as early as the tenth grade and provides them with multiple opportunities to receive certifications and even an associate degree in cybersecurity.

 “The results have been promising, as 216 middle and high school students have taken cybersecurity-related dual enrollment courses within the past year and successfully obtained 73 industry-recognized certificates,” said Ben Izadi, director of the college’s Cyber Defense Center and lead for the Cybersecurity Program.

LBCC offers an Associate of Science in Computer Security and Networking, and a Certificate of Achievement in Computer Security and Networking. LBCC faculty and staff worked diligently over the past six years to build the program and make it one of the most robust cybersecurity programs in Southern California.

Steve Linthicum, Deputy Sector Navigator for Information Communication Technologies and Digital Media in the Orange County Region, attended the CAE designation ceremony on November 7 and played a role in helping LBCC and Cypress receive the designations after a failed attempt by Sierra College.

 “I provided both colleges, through the IT Fundamentals project, additional support relating to their connection with middle schools and high schools that allowed students to obtain their IT Fundamentals certification,” Linthicum said. “I also provided documentation relating to the failed attempt by Sierra College a couple of years ago.”