Education - Page 4 - Tremendous opportunities

- Page 4
Tremendous opportunities
Careers in cybersecurity, digital forensics and data science

By E. Rose Scarff, Contributing Writer

It’s a tremendous opportunity for students,” says Pat Mikos, director of operations and services, workforce development and continuing education division at Baltimore City Community College (BCCC), speaking of the grant funded cyber warrior diversity program.

The certificate program prepares students to take a series of Computing Technology Industry Association certification exams in A+, Network+ and Security+, which in turn prepares them for entry-level jobs right away. “It is a career pathway defined by the needs of the industry,” says Mikos. “Students need to be well trained in computing, networking infrastructure and programming.”

“Students may start their coursework in the work force, non-credit side and then move over to coursework on the credit side,” says Iweha Enyinnaya, M.D., dean of school of business, sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics. “We make sure their credits can transfer to four-year institutions if they want to further their education and move up in their field. Students can come back constantly and through their electives are able to take what is needed for their industry.”

“We get a mix of career changers and brand-new students,” says Mikos.“They often circle back to re-tool or up-tool, and the community college is a more affordable way to do it. It is often a problem for students to come up with the cost of the industry exams,which can run to $200 to $300 per exam.We are excited that with the grant funds we can help more students.”

“We are the only community college in Maryland included in the fund. All the rest are four-year institutions,” says Enyinnaya, “Our teachers keep up with the latest technology, and our labs simulate real world problems. Students do presentations of their work and get a chance to try to hack each other.”

“Every subject taken was actually the perfect course and why we are in school,” says Olawale Ojelabi, a recent graduate of the program. “The professors are really good teachers.” Ojelabi is currently planning to continue his education.

“Our business partners are able to help our students find employment,” says Mikos. There is unlimited opportunity with business and government in the Maryland area.

Stevenson University’s Bachelor of Science degree in cybersecurity and digital forensics has been preparing students for this highly lucrative and challenging field for some time with their on-campus program. New in the fall of 2018 will be a completely online version of the program. Students can do the entire degree online, including general requirements, but students transfer ring from community college will be able to transfer all their units.

“We found that community colleges in Maryland were preparing students with enough skills to get jobs in the field with just an associate degree,” says Steven Engorn, M.B.A., and program coordinator for the cybersecurity and digital forensics major. “But if they wanted to advance in their field, they would need further education. We have developed the online program so that they can continue working while completing their degree.”

The courses are taught in eight-week sessions. “This has proved very effective,” says Engorn. “All courses have a real-time video web conference portion where students can participate with the instructor and their fellow students. It is also recorded, so if a student misses it or wants to watch it again, it is available. There is work due each week and interaction between students on discussion boards for a set of outcomes each week.”

“Cybersecurity is a hands-on field,” continues Engorn,“so there are hands-on online labs for students. The virtual lab that the students use is the same as the one on-site students use.” In the digital forensics courses, students learn how to detect cyber criminals, but also how to preserve evidence for use in court. All students must also finish with a capstone project, which could be something from their workplace or something that Stevenson helps them set up.

“For students who want to continue their education beyond a bachelor’s degree, Stevenson has a unique bachelor to masters program where 18 units of their undergraduate work can count toward the masters,” says Engorn. “Not only can they finish their masters sooner, but those units are at the undergraduate rate, and so it is a less expensive way to get their master’s degree.”

At Loyola University Maryland, they have a technology major that gives a new look at existing problems. “Working with big data issues has been going on for some time,” says Chris Morrell, Ph.D., professor of statistics and director of data science at Loyola, “but this new undergraduate program in data science gives students training with the tools needed to extract data and different ways to use it.”

The program is inter-disciplinary, with faculty in business, statistics and computer sciences. “Many of the courses already exist,” says Morrell, “but are used in new applications that are always arising.” The school already has a successful master’s degree program in this area and they are now introducing an undergraduate degree. It is possible that rising juniors or seniors with the required coursework can enter the program.

Students in the program learn how to turn raw data into information that is useful, how to uncover problems and find solutions. The interdisciplinary aspects of the program give them a variety of perspectives with which to approach a problem.

In addition to classwork, all students must complete a capstone project. “They use real data and do the analysis and write a report,” says Morrell.“We help them find an appropriate company or non-profit to work with through our contacts. Our board helps guide them through the process, including dealing with security issues and confidentiality.”

Throughout their coursework and during their capstone project, students learn to deal with the ethical issues that arise when using sensitive data. When students graduate they will have the skills and expertise to enter this fast-growing area of technology. “There is no end of data out there,” says Morrell, “a massive amount of it: in business, in government, in the military and in non-profits.” Whatever their field of interest, a graduate should have no problem finding a place to put their skills to work. •

Cybersecurity, digital forensics and data science careers

Cybersecurity and data technology are both fields in high demand in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area. Opportunities abound in the government, the military, business and just about any organization with computer network systems.

Those who work in the fields of cybersecurity and digital forensics are fighting cybercrime. The increase in cyberattacks and security breaches in recent years, both here in the U.S. and abroad, just underscores the need for specialists to combat cybercrimes, develop security policies or do computer forensics investigations and preserve and present evidence.

The need for personnel who can work with big data also continues to grow. Those who have the skills needed to collect, process and analyze data for their organization are in high demand.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that computer and information technology occupations will grow 28 percent during the next 10 years, especially in the areas of security and big data. They report median annual salaries of around $84,000, but some starting salaries in cybersecurity in the Baltimore area have been reported at $90,000.

Students with an analytical mind and the computer background, skills and credentials will have no trouble finding work in any of these fields. Some entry level jobs are open to applicants with the computer background and industry certification alone, but to advance in these fields a bachelor’s or a master’s degree is usually required. •

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Above left: Baltimore City Community College students often work in teams to solve cybersecurity problems. This approach helps foster creative solutions to complex questions.