VWCC designated National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education

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Virginia Western Community College has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Beginning in December, students who graduate with a career studies certificate in Information Technology: Cyber Security will earn the CAE-CDE designation on their transcripts and receive the educational and employment benefits that come with it.

“Cybersecurity professionals are in incredible demand
nationally and across the Commonwealth of Virginia, where our government is
increasingly reliant on a strong cyber-defense,” said B Bagby, assistant
professor of IT. “This designation is an important way to show employers that
our students have received the rigorous education and hands-on training that
will allow them to adapt to and defend against ever-changing threats.”

Bagby accepted the CAE-CDE designation on behalf of
Virginia Western at a national cybersecurity conference on Nov. 20 in Phoenix.
The college became one of only eight community colleges in Virginia to have
earned the designation. There are 11 four-year universities in Virginia with
the designation.

By 2021, cyber crime is expected to more than triple the
number of unfilled cybersecurity jobs, which should reach 3.5 million. Locally,
with strong healthcare and banking industries, protecting patient and financial
records is a major priority. Jobs such as network analyst, security analyst and
security architect are in high-demand.

“Education related to cybersecurity has become a point of
emphasis across Virginia in recent years,” said Amy White, Virginia Western’s
Dean of STEM. “We have heard from our industry partners in the Roanoke Region
that they need a strong IT workforce to protect their assets and our community.
Our IT program has been leading the way and will continue to do so thanks to
this national designation.”

As a part of the CAE-CDE designation, Virginia Western
faculty will sit on the Executive Committee for the Virginia Cyber Range, an
initiative to enhance cybersecurity education in the Commonwealth’s high
schools, college and universities. It allows students to hone their
cybersecurity skills in an immersive, hands-on virtual environment.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to test out
the skills they have been developing in an environment that mimics the real
world, but is safe from actual threats,” Bagby said. “It’s one more tool we can
deploy to help our students become proficient at cybersecurity.”

To earn the CAE-CDE designation, Virginia Western
demonstrated its robust degree programs and close alignment to specific
cybersecurity-related knowledge units. Top subject matter experts in the field
validated the programs and evaluated three years of graduating classes.

Virginia Western’s IT program offers two Associate of
Science degrees and three Associate of Applied Science degrees. Cybersecurity
is one of six career studies certificates that can be paired with an
Associate’s Degree or earned separately. IT classes are offered both on-campus
and online, and fast-track certifications are also available.

In support of the growing need for flexible learning
spaces in cyber security, information technology and computer science, Virginia
Western will be opening a new cyber security lab and a new networking classroom
for spring semester. The facility includes advanced instructional tools, a
computer lab and additional, informal workspace for students to use for group
study, computer and IT hardware learning.

Virginia Western’s Spring Semester begins on Jan. 20,
2020. To learn more about IT offerings and how to enroll, visit: www.virginiawestern.edu/academics/infotech.php.

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