Computer Networking and Security Technology at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen is celebrating a unique national distinction. The program is now a Center of Excellence for Cyber Defense for two-year education programs. The recognition comes from the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency.
The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense recognizes and grants designations to institutions that offer rigorous degree programs in information security.
“Your ability to meet the increasing demands of the program criteria will serve the nation well in contributing to the protection of the National Information Infrastructure,” Karen Leuschner, National CAE Cyber Defense program director states in a letter to TSTC. “There is a shortage of cyber security professionals and higher education is the solution to defending America’s cyberspace.”
To receive the designation, TSTC’s Computer Networking and Security Technology program had to meet numerous criteria. The program’s curriculum must have the approval of the CAE selection board and have a networking security plan in place. Additionally, faculty must have all necessary cyber security certifications and student enrolled need to practice cyber security skills outside of the classroom. Credits must also be transferable to a four-year institution and the program must practice community outreach.
The program’s graduating class of Spring 2019 will be the first to earn both an associate degree and a certificate. Only a handful of students who graduate from a center of excellence receive the recognition across the United States. TSTC’s designation runs through the academic year of 2023.
According to Hernandez, students who receive the NSA and DHS recognition are more marketable in industry. Additionally, they are more likely to receive higher paying jobs within prestigious organizations.
The demand for skilled cyber security professionals is expected to increase by 2021 with at least 3.5 million positions unfilled, according to Cybersecurity Ventures.