Community College Cybersecurity Program Trains 21st-Century Workforce

3 minutes

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(male narrator) The stakes are high at this cyber defense competition. Top-notch security pros are posing as the bad guys, trying to break into simulated business computer networks, the kinds you'll find on Wall Street, in banks, or hospitals. And teams of students have to think like hackers, competing against each other to keep the attackers out. It's great practice for what they're learning in class. Cybersecurity provides a great career path. There's thousands of different jobs. Does a router have a motherboard? Looks like a PC.

(narrator) With support from the National Science Foundation, the Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance at Moraine Valley Community College outside Chicago, has become a national center for cybersecurity education. Center director Erich Spengler says the school teaches students how to keep computer networks buttoned up tight. Students come from all walks of life. I'm an electrician, but I've been forced to retool my career. I'm upgrading my skills. I was in printing for 13 years, and that industry's dying. It's a real, functioning network.

(narrator) What makes it a national center is its Virtualization Data Center, an online practice field of simulated computers and networks that act like the real thing. I'm actually on this machine up here. And going through the firewall, I am scanning this machine down here.

(narrator) Students and faculty from other institutions log on for training from virtually anywhere. Today, students are using it to practice for the next cyber defense competition. Industries are partnering with Moraine Valley. In a lot of cases, students are hired before they finish the programs.

(narrator) One partner, Dell SecureWorks, hired graduate Carlos Marquez. I love it. It's a great team. It's good people, good culture.

(narrator) Spengler points to Carlos as an example for others. He has a good job, his dream car, and at his next cybersecurity competition, he won't be a student playing defense, he'll be one of the cybersecurity pros. For Science Nation, I'm Miles O'Brien.


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The stakes are high at Collegiate Cyber Defense Competitions (CCDC), where top-notch security professionals pose as computer hackers, who try to break into simulated business computer networks. As the “bad guys” try to compromise computer systems, teams of students have to think like hackers, and compete against each other to keep the attackers out. Part of the National Science Foundation Series “Science Nation.”

Media Details

Runtime: 3 minutes

Science Nation
Episode 1
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 2
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
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Episode 3
4 minutes
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Episode 4
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Episode 5
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Episode 6
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Episode 7
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Episode 8
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Episode 9
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Episode 10
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