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New professor brings Cyber Security & Investigation Program into future

“The future started yesterday,” declared Washington State Community College’s (WSCC) Associate Professor of Information Technology Dr. Adam Beatty. After joining the college last year, Beatty went to work updating the institution’s Cyber Security & Investigation program curriculum into version 2.0 to meet align with the future of work.

The field of cyber security and investigation is ever evolving. Also changing are the needs of those looking to launch careers in the industry. The reason behind the recent overhaul to the program’s curriculum was the combination of these two critical factors. “Revamping the cyber security program is not only a response to the rate of change of technology but to the diverse ways students think and learn,” explained Beatty.

In the classroom, Beatty said it has been his experience that students are engaged on their mobile devices during lectures, rather than listening to their professors. Moreover, the students prefer more of a hands-on approach to learning about cyber security with little reading.

“From my past educational delivery experiences, students are reading less of their assigned course materials, if they even bother to read any of it at all,” said Beatty. He went on to say that students perceive sources, like Youtube.com, as valid instructional resources. In response, Beatty changed the entire curriculum. The reboot of Cyber Security & Investigation incorporates video lectures, demonstrations, and webinars capped off with the integration of the most integral part of the reboot – an online training tool which provides tutorials and simulations that can result in additional IT certifications and credentialing for the students.

Beatty explained that in addition to an engaging learning environment, the tool is designed to give students the ability to test for up to six different certifications while they are enrolled in the program. While this additional training is not a requirement for the course, graduates who have earned these additional certifications will stand out in the job market, as “most of their competition in the interviewing process will not possess these credentials,” stressed Beatty. He went on to say that those students who invest in the time to earn the additional certificates “present an independent, motivated behavioral mindset towards learning their craft.”

Another critical aspect of the program is the incorporation of internships. While hands-on practical field experience has always been part of the curriculum, Beatty explained that he plans to make additional improvements based on feedback provided by businesses participating in the practicum program. “This allows our local business owners to validate the product and how the new curriculum is meeting their needs.”

Ultimately, Beatty said the refresh of the Cyber Security & Investigation program is to provide an educational delivery method that engages students to the point that they’re making an impact on the industry. “It’s not if we will provide the next set of graduates with the repertoire needed to excel in the cyber security field, but rather how high will they set the bar for their organizations and peers?” Beatty concluded.

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts above average employment rates for jobs in the information security field. Between 2018 and 2028, they anticipate job growth rate to be 32-percent, which is nearly six times the average rate.

For additional information about enrollment in this program, contact Admissions at 304-568-1900 or speak directly with Dr. Beatty at the upcoming Virtual Summer Showcase on Thursday, June 25. For log-in details, pre-register at wscc.edu/event/wscc-virtual-summer-showcase.

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