Estrella Mountain Community College Cybersecurity Program Selected as National Treasure

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​The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have designated Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education.

EMCC Instructional Computing faculty, Larry Heinz, explains cybersecurity to high school students.

Larry Heinz, EMCC faculty

Completing the CEA program opens doors for our students at a national level for federal and corporate careers. --Dr. Clay Goodman, EMCC Vice President of Learning

​The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have designated Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) as a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education. EMCC is the first two-year institution in Arizona to receive this distinction, which covers academic years 2014 through 2019.

According to the NSA, the EMCC cybersecurity program will serve the nation by contributing to the protection of the National Information Infrastructure. It supports President Obama’s National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace and the International Strategy for Cyberspace, which highlights the importance of higher education as a solution to defending America’s cyberspace.

“Becoming a CAE indicates that our program is meeting the highest standards for training students to protect and defend cyberspace,” said Dr. Clay Goodman, EMCC Vice President of Learning, and Director of the Arizona Sun Corridor-Get Into Energy Consortium (ASC-GIEC). “Completing the CEA program opens doors for our students at a national level for federal and corporate careers.” In addition to prestige, the NSA offers students participating in a CAE program exclusive access to specialized scholarships, internships and career fairs.

In the fall of 2014, EMCC began partnering with the Peoria Unified School District Medical, Engineering and Technology (MET) Professional Academy to offer dual and concurrent enrollment credits for the cybersecurity program to high school students. This partnership, along with emerging university articulation agreements, will provide students a seamless pathway from high school through graduate school. The college pathway includes EMCC’s CAE two-year program, followed by in-state access to a CAE four-year program.

“With the support of Estrella Mountain, we are championing partnerships at the MET Professional Academy to fast forward our high school students to the college level,” said Dr. Denton Santarelli, Superintendent of Peoria Unified School District. “By aligning with EMCC’s cybersecurity degree pathway, our students will gain the knowledge and professional skills essential to the careers in this critical and high-demand field.”

The Peoria partnership model is not the only way to enter into the EMCC cybersecurity program. Open enrollment is offered to post high school students, transitioning veterans and re-careering adults, with typical opportunities for financial aid. Class registration and student advisement for fall 2015 semester are now available.

The CAE cyber defense program at EMCC encompasses an associate degree in IT and Power Systems Security (IT-PSS), which offers four tracks to students: Power Systems and IT Security; Network Security (Cisco); Systems Security (Linux) and Systems Security (Microsoft).

The program curriculum is founded on the principles of the Department of Labor (DOL) Employment and Training Administration’s (ETA) Cybersecurity Competency Model, which was modified by EMCC with input from an industry advisory council. As students progress through the pathway, their coursework will prepare them to challenge a variety of IT security industry certification exams.

EMCC’s cybersecurity program is a component of the ASC-GIEC, a DOL grant-funded initiative comprised of five Arizona community colleges seeking to enhance workforce development for the energy industry. The consortium began developing specialized academic tracks in power security to address a critical workforce shortage upon request from industry partners.

On Monday, June 15, 2015, EMCC Instructional Computing faculty, Jim Nichols and Larry Heinz, will be presented with the CAE award at the 19th Annual Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Twenty-eight schools received CAE designation this year, and 46 states now have CAE institutions.

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Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC) is one of the 10 regionally accredited Maricopa Community Colleges, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. EMCC offers transfer-ready academic courses and job-specific occupational training to approximately 14,000 students annually. The flagship campus is located on Thomas and Dysart Roads in Avondale and the EMCC Buckeye is located in downtown Buckeye, AZ.

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Karen Harbin-Januzik
@mcccd
since: 12/2009
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