Edmonds CC earns National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education certification

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Edmonds Community College has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

“There is a dire need in this area and a critical shortage of professionals with cybersecurity skills in the U.S.” said Dr. Carey Schroyer, dean of Edmonds CC’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) division. “With our recent CAE​ designation, and our talented faculty and staff, Edmonds CC will continue to keep our cybersecurity offerings in step with the needs of industry and our students, increasing our visibility as a top college for future leaders in the field of cybersecurity.”

The college is certified through the 2022 academic year.

The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security jointly sponsor the CAE program, and its goal of reducing vulnerability in the national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research, and producing a growing pipeline of professionals with information assurance expertise in various disciplines.

“This commendation comes at a critical time, as information security threats continue to dominate headlines as shown by the recent breach at Equifax that exposed sensitive data for as many as 143 million U.S. consumers,” said Steve Hailey, Edmonds CC Cybersecurity instructor.

According to Hailey, thousands of cybersecurity jobs go unfilled each year, making it one of the most in demand professions in the tech sector. Cybersecurity job openings are forecast to grow by over 50 percent in the next two years, and growth in the field is not expected to slow.

Hailey and fellow faculty member Mike Andrew instruct the Cybersecurity program at Edmonds CC, where cybersecurity training has been offered since 1999. The college was one of the first community colleges in Washington state to offer a degree program with a focus in cybersecurity.

Now, students have the opportunity to earn a certificate in cybersecurity, or an associate’s degree in Information Security and Digital Forensics. Associate degree holders can go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems Security from Western Washington University, or transfer to other four-year colleges and universities.

The cybersecurity curriculum also allows students to earn industry certifications, including Security+, Certified Ethical Hacker, and the CyberSecurity Forensic Analyst (CSFA).

“I came to Edmonds CC because of the reputation of its Information Security and Digital Forensics program,” said Edmonds CC student Leslie Berntson. “I’ve worked on several digital forensic cases now, and helped recover data for the families affected by the Oso landslide.

“The entire STEM division at Edmonds CC is top notch. I would not have had all of these opportunities anywhere else.”

Berntson said the education and guidance she received from her instructors equipped her with the confidence and knowledge necessary for starting her own digital forensics business.

Students also work on real life digital forensics cases as cybersecurity professionals. Currently, students are working on two digital forensics cases, including processing a criminal case for a law enforcement agency.  During winter quarter, students will be conducting a security vulnerability assessment and penetration test for a government agency.

All work is overseen by Edmonds CC cybersecurity faculty.

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