December 15, 2018

Students on the Cyber Fast Track

Cyber Fast Track
From left, CSM students Jeremy Foster, Netsanet “Netsy” Deribe, Aljan Tablizo, CSM instructor Wendy Hayes, students Gage Beavan, Cody Hight, Samala “Sam” Howard, Jeremy Plum, Myea Kelly, William “Preston” Fouch, and Usaamah “Sammy” Al-Farooq participated in the launch of Cyber Fast Track Maryland, a new program that was established to help close a widening gap of job openings in the cybersecurity field.

Students at the College of Southern Maryland recently participated in the launch of Cyber Fast Track Maryland, a new program that has been established to help close a widening gap of job openings in the field of cybersecurity.

Cyber Fast Track was a free, one-day event tailored for community college students in Maryland, giving them a chance to showcase their skills and meet with cybersecurity experts from GEICO, Cisco, IBM, Vanguard, and Fannie Mae, just to list a few.

CSM Professor Wendy Hayes and CSM student Usaamah Al-Farooq work through one of a number of real-world cyber security challenges in the CyberStart Game, an online platform that features hundreds of hours of realistic examples and threats faced by cyber security experts in the field.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures’ Cybersecurity Jobs Report for 2018-2021, 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs will open by 2021. That company recently published an article by Brian Fonseca of the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy at Florida International University’s Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs, calling upon educational institutions, government, and industry to work together on addressing the “challenging skills gap that has caused a global shortage of professionals.”

“For far too long the skills gap — or the mismatch between the skills employers are looking for and the skills potential employees have — has dominated conversations between higher education and industry,” Mr. Fonseca wrote. “One thing is clear: To fill this need, our higher educational institutions, industry and government agencies must work together. If what we are doing is not working for our students — or the good of society — it’s time to rethink education and how we prepare students.”

This is where Cyber Fast Track Maryland plays its role. During the event held at the Germantown Campus of Montgomery College, students from all over Maryland played online games that were filled with hours of real-world cybersecurity challenges. As students worked through the levels of each game, they tackled realistic examples of security threats that are faced by cybersecurity practitioners in the field while professionals were nearby, ready to help out and answer questions. Individual and team challenges were staged through the day, and winners earned prizes.

Students from CSM at the Cyber Fast Track Maryland event included Aljan Tablizo, Myea Kelly, Gage Beavan, Jeremy Foster, Samala Howard, Netsanet Deribe, Usaamah Al-Farooq, Jeremy Plum, Cody Hight and William “Preston” Fouch.

“Cybersecurity professionals are in great demand,” said CSM Business, Technology, and Public Service Division Chair Bernice Brezina. “Programs like the Cyber Fast Track Maryland help us attract and support those students who have voiced interest in this exciting field.”

Cyber Fast Track is a SANS Institute program made possible through funding from the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation EARN Program. Montgomery College and 13 Maryland employers are helping to make the program successful.

CSM is a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. The program was designated as a Center of Academic Excellence for two-year schools (CAE-2Y) by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. For information about the CyberHawks, email DaphneP@cmsd.edu. For information about CSM’s cybersecurity program, visit the college online.

For more about the College of Southern Maryland, visit its Leader member page.

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