A new AAS in Cybersecurity was approved by the Richland board in December 2018 and later approved by the ICCB and IBHE in 2019. Thanks to financial support from the Workforce Development Grant, the College hired Aaron Barnett as our new Cybersecurity Program Director in September 2019. Aaron came to the position with experience in Cyber defense in the U.S. Navy, along with experience as a Technical Services member at Richland.
In 2019 the Board approved the use of Public Health and Safety funds to renovate classrooms E162 and E163 into Cyber labs. The construction is complete and each room now has ample power, server space, and HVAC capability. The Cybersecurity director and Technical Services are working to repurpose the existing Networking lab to be used for the new Cyber labs. Workforce Development funds are also being used to stock the Cyber labs with the latest technology. One of the nation’s largest community colleges for Cybersecurity has offered to allow remote access to their servers, helping to lower cost and space demands for our program.
On the curricular side, the Cybersecurity director has worked on adding online and certificate options to the new degree. We are investigating a partnership with CompTIA, a leading company in cybersecurity and information assurance. A CompTIA membership is a minimal investment that can lead to opportunities for certificate completion and industry-recognized credentials for completers.
All students in related Information Technology programs have been coached about the new opportunities in Cybersecurity, with many students taking the step to add Cybersecurity credentials and course completion to their existing accomplishments. With a completed lab and growing student base, the program is ready to grow in 2020.