The need for a cybersecurity pathway is well-known, but setting one up can be easier said than done. The November 1 ICT-DM Educator webinar focused on this exact topic and featured advice from two people who have set up a successful dual enrollment program at Cypress College.
Henry Hua is the Dean of Business at Cypress College, and Stephanie Teer is the college’s Director of Dual Enrollment. Over the past two years, they’ve grown cybersecurity dual enrollment from 197 students to more than 4,000. This has further strengthened cybersecurity as the college’s flagship programs.
Hua and Teer said CyberPatriot was the gateway to dual enrollment. The competition helped pique students’ interest in cybersecurity and show them at an early age what the potential career paths could look like. The program is primarily utilized by Magnolia High School and other schools within the Anaheim Unified School District.
“Our goal was to try to invigorate the younger students into understanding that the fun part of CyberPatriot is it has a career path that’s attached to it,” Hua said. “It helped us a lot in developing this pathway and ensuring students had an engagement factor that they could join and spend a lot of their Saturdays every month training.”
From there, the college’s CIS 190 course (Cybersecurity Competition Fundamentals) bridges the gap between the competition and college-level coursework. Students starting in the dual enrollment program also take an introductory Cisco networking course.
That focus on networking continues with additional courses in level 2 of the program.
“If no computer was ever connected, then cybersecurity really is a non-issue. But because all of our computers are connected, understanding a baseline of network fundamentals is extremely, extremely important,” Hua said.
In the 2018/19 school year, the program expanded to middle school. Young students are paired with older Cyber Mentors to help them learn the basics in a peer-to-peer setting and keep their interest in cybersecurity going into high school.
Teer said that there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to managing a dual enrollment program, but it’s paid off because Cypress College has received grant funding and support from the Chancellor’s Office.
They are looking to expand the number of dual enrollments even more. Teer said that there are two types of students that they are looking to target.
“We have students that want to get into careers as soon as possible, and they want to find out how to get those industry certificates so that they can get going and moving,” she said. “We also look at students that want to maybe go on to four-year campuses, get degrees in Computer Science or Cybersecurity. And the way we promote our Cybersecurity dual enrollment pathway is, while they’re in college and going towards a four-year degree, this is something that they’re already prepared in.”
Faculty attending the webinar had questions about how Hua and Teer connect students with companies for hands-on experience. This is something that’s top-of-mind for them and, over the years, they’ve built relationships with everyone from small businesses to large corporations.
The team at Cypress also works to ensure that instructors understand the parameters of dual enrollment courses and are qualified to teach college-level classes.
“All of our teachers that teach our courses are college-hired instructors,” Hua said. “Now, that doesn’t mean that a high school teacher can’t apply for a position to be an adjunct with us, as long as they meet the minimum qualification of the subject area that they’re requesting to teach in.”
To watch the webinar replay and download the slides and transcript, visit https://ictdmsector.org/cybersecurity-dual-enrollment-pathway-at-cypress-college/