HCC Digital & Information Technology Center of Excellence receives prestigious national designation

Mar 28, 2017

After 18 long months of submitting documentation, building a website, upgrading content, and aligning curriculum with industry new competencies requirements, focusing on the student experience, and working with an assigned mentor, Houston Community College (HCC) has now been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense 2-Year (CAE2Y) Education for the Cybersecurity program. This program is part of the Digital and Information Technology Center of Excellence located at the West Loop Campus. 

“HCC met the six rigorous CAE2Y institutional criteria,” CyberWatch West C5 CAE2Y Mentor Stephen Miller said. “To put this in perspective, there are less than 1% of the community colleges in the United States that meet these criteria.”  

Becoming CAE2Y is a new opportunity for community colleges in recent years. It entails an arduous process and most educational institutions do not make the cut. In fact, only six community colleges became CAE2Y institutions during the first year of the program in 2010. HCC is only the third community college in the state with the CAE2Y designation and the only one in the Gulf coast region to have earned it.

“The CAE2Y designation ensures employers that our institution’s students come from a program that is nationally recognized by the federal government as meeting the highest standards in cybersecurity,” Digital and Information Technology Center of Excellence (COE) Dean Douglas Rowlett, Ph.D. said. “It gives them an edge in employment and opens doors into certain federal grants and programs for our COE. This COE is going to lead the way to greater job opportunities and greater cultural and societal accomplishments for our students as they step into the digital world’s leadership roles tomorrow.”

NCAE_Cyber_Defense recognitionThe CAE2Y institutional designation is a national designation established by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). With the support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and CyberWatch West, Houston Community College has successfully mapped their security classes to the CAE program Knowledge Units. 

“What really impressed me about the HCC program was the cyber defense programs of study and pathways from the two cyber security certificates to Associates of Applied Science in Cyber Security that will provide students the knowledge and skills to entry the cybersecurity workforce and/or pursue a bachelor’s degree in IT and or cybersecurity,” CyberWatch West C5 CAE2Y Mentor Stephen Miller said.

HCC cybersecurity curriculum has been in place for over three years with continuous improvement that meets the National Security Agency CAE2Y eleven Knowledge Units. The teamwork, commitment, and leadership from HCC Cybersecurity Professor Scott Hillman, who serves as the CAE2Y point of contact, Dean Douglas Rowlett, Ph.D., the two Department Chairs Professor Abass Alamnehe and Professor Homied Asgary as well as the rest of the cybersecurity faculty, and their willingness to apply the recommendations during the CAE2Y application process led to the designation.

“Cybersecurity has become a major priority for businesses both big and small and there is a growing need for cybersecurity professionals,” HCC Southwest President Madeline Burillo, Ed.D. said.  “In a recent interview, the CEO of Symatec indicated that the cybersecurity workforce in U.S. will rise to 4 million by 2019 with a projected shortfall of 1.5 million.  As a result, the number of open positions will quickly outpace the number of qualified candidates entering the workforce. HCC is closing the gap by providing the best education with the highest standards in this field.”

Several HCC dignitaries will attend the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Reception and Designation Ceremony at the National Cyber Summit in Huntsville, AL from June 6-8, 2017.

HCC will place the NSA and DHS seals on the transcripts and diplomas of Cybersecurity graduates this spring. For more information on the HCC Cybersecurity program, go to: hccs.edu/cybersecurity.

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