More than 10 students from Northern Virginia Community College who are interested and enrolled in the cybersecurity degree program recently visited the Department of Homeland Security’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center and National Infrastructure Coordinating Center in Arlington.
During the tour, students had the opportunity to speak with DHS cybersecurity career professionals and tour the facility. Students learned about daily operations and the career opportunities available in the cybersecurity field.
Coordinator Alex Seminario said the tours of the facility started two years ago, and the NOVA cybersecurity and information technology staff think it’s important for students to experience the environment for careers they’re interested in pursuing.
“This is about creating awareness and having students see how our country is currently using tools and resources in cybersecurity to protect us,” Seminario said. “We want to make sure they receive exposure to this field and professionals who have worked in cybersecurity to complement what they learn in a classroom.”
NOVA students experienced the tour with several others from Anne Arundel Community College. They all visited the Watch Floor of the facility where several cybersecurity professionals use a number of resources to track and monitor possible threats to the country. The facility also has partnerships with a number of organizations including law enforcement, FBI and others that they share information with in an effort to protect the United States. “The Department of Homeland Security strives to provide students with engaging opportunities that highlight the different career paths within the department,” said Office of Academic Engagement Director Trent Frazier. “My office is excited to coordinate these tours so that students interested in cybersecurity can gain relevant exposure.”
Students learned about the different components of cybersecurity, and DHS professionals also stressed the importance of communication and strategy when working in this field. National Program Director of Cybersecurity Training and Education Dan Stein also emphasized the importance of having a connection with community colleges and how the cybersecurity field will continue to need trained and highly-educated professionals.
“DHS certainly does have a need for skilled and competitive cybersecurity candidates,” Stein said. “These programs and community colleges are important because we want to ensure that DHS has the right candidates coming in who are qualified and available, not only for the federal government, for other businesses and organizations in the whole country.”
NOVA student Briana Jamison said she was pleased with the tour and gained a lot of insight into cybersecurity and future possibilities.
“I enjoyed the tour because it was really an eye-opening experience,” Jamison said. “It allowed me to see what they do and how important it is to secure communication with partner agencies and organizations.”
NOVA’s Cybersecurity program provides a curriculum that is mapped to DHS and NSA cybersecurity education standards and is designated by the agencies as a Center of Academic Excellence for two-year institutions (CAE2Y). The AAS Cybersecurity degree program is transferrable to many four-year institutions and offers students the opportunity to participate in a variety of exciting competitions and extra-curricular activities.
Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.