Silicon Valley Grant Encourages Student Exploration of Cybersecurity, Telecommunication, Computer Networking

cybersecurityCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 3, 2014 – The Department of Polytechnic Studies at Southeast Missouri State University has been awarded an $18,000 Cisco Networking Academy Fund grant to provide students with opportunities to explore careers in cybersecurity, telecommunication and computer networking.

Through the project, Southeast will collaborate with local career and technology centers and community colleges to provide a career oriented program to support Cisco Academies, said Robbie Davis, author of the grant and instructor of telecommunications and computer networking in the Department of Polytechnic Studies.

“This grant is rather unique in that it was very competitive and comes to us from Silicon Valley,” said Audrey Jerrolds, grants coordinator in the Office of Research and Grant Development.

The Cisco Networking Academy is a global education initiative from Cisco Systems. The Academy offers networking programs, like the CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) and CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) courses, along with CompTIA A+ certification, which prepare students for certification exams of the same name and other computer-related courses such as Cybersecurity, Virtualization (Cloud infrastructure), and Network Management.

Davis says Cisco courses are available in approximately 9,000 local academies, in more than 165 different countries. As of 2010, there were more than 900,000 active students. Currently Southeast students obtaining a bachelor’s degree in technology management, telecommunications and networking, cybersecurity, and students from the Department of Computer Science, along with students seeking a computer technology associate’s degree, are all required to complete training using the Cisco Networking Academy.

The grant, provided by the Cisco Networking Academy Fund, a Corporate Advised Fund of the Silicon Valley Foundation, paves the way for improving articulation between high school technical programs and collegiate two- and four-year programs. It also will help in the organization of workshops and assist career and technology centers and high school instructors to become certified Cisco instructors. This will allow them to teach courses that mirror college-level courses for articulation purposes.

The workshops also will train instructors on how to utilize remote lab equipment and help them lower their individual lab cost. Equipment for the lab will be housed at Southeast.

The proposed curriculum alignment will be developed by local academies for local academies in the University’s service region. This will ensure the articulation agreements address both regional and national concerns, Davis said. Therefore it can be implemented not only in this region but also replicated in other regions and states.

The team has already initiated interaction with area industries and community colleges. Southeast has begun working with St. Louis Community College at Forest Park to complete articulation agreements, which start with high schools, follow through to community colleges and allow students an opportunity to complete a four-year degree with Southeast, Davis said.