By Master Sgt. Brad StaggsAugust 8, 2019
MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. -According to Cyber Seek, there are currently 313,735 cybersecurity jobs open nationwide. Indiana, alone, accounts for 2,280 of those jobs. California is actively seeking 36,602 cybersecurity professionals right now.
Ivy Tech Community College, in association with the National Center for Complex Operations (NCCO) and Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC), saw this shortage, creating a new program headquartered at MUTC which offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity in just 11 months. The coursework includes core classes such as English Composition, Algebra, and Public Speaking as well as the classes which make this degree so valuable such as Ethical Hacking, Digital Forensics, and Network Protocol Analysis.
"This is a day we have been looking forward to for a long time," Ivy Tech President Dr. Sue Ellspermann told the graduates and family members assembled. "Here at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, we are doing something that is truly innovative. It is a one-of-a-kind in the nation."
The Cyber Academy didn't happen overnight. Three years ago, Dr. Steven Combs, chancellor of Ivy Tech Columbus and a 27-year veteran of the Army and Air Force, began talking with the Indiana National Guard about what Ivy Tech could do to bring education opportunities to Guard facilities.
"I had an opportunity to come out here [MUTC] and visit this place about three years ago and we just said 'whoa! There's something here that we need to be doing!'." Combs says. "We have this new NSA approved Cyber Academy, I bet we could do something."
Dr. Combs approached Dr. Ellspermann, President of Ivy Tech, with the idea for a two-year cybersecurity degree in 11 months at Muscatatuck. Ellspermann jumped at the idea, especially considering the fact that cybercrime affects every person who operates a computer, including her own university. Ivy Tech, according to Ellspermann, is attacked over one million times per day in an attempt at cyber fraud.
The course is not just for the nerd in all of us, it can be taken by people who have very little working knowledge of cybersecurity, according to Spc. Nathaniel Musick, a Geospatial Engineer with the Indiana National Guard's 219th Engineering Brigade.
"I felt kind of familiar with computers, you know, just general use and a little bit of normal knowledge," Musick says. "I mean, the first few weeks, I definitely felt kind of behind but then I caught up just from effort. I really enjoyed it and I'm looking to get a long career out of it."
Employment recruiters are talking to students before they have graduated due to a lack of prospective employees. Every graduating student has been interviewed by companies seeking cyber professionals - some multiple times - and a few have already started working jobs which pay more than $75,000 per year.
Some, like Spc. Sophia Balderas with the 76th Brigade Engineer Battalion, are taking their time and moving on to further their education. "I got a couple of [interviews] that I'm really interested in. I'm looking forward to getting in a little bit deeper. I think I'm going to look for a little bit more once I get my Bachelor's."
Having a full-time college on-site at Muscatatuck filled with both civilian and military students - 20 of which lived in housing on-site - only helped the Army's premiere urban training facility look more populated, very much like a city.
Muscatatuck Commander Lt. Col. John Pitt is happy to have the students and faculty members on-site every day. "We call Muscatatuck a living, breathing city, as real as it gets. It contributes to the realism!" he says. Pitt goes on to say that students, faculty, and support staff add to the complexity of the human domain on Muscatatuck.
Along with a two-year Associate's Degree, graduates also receive three national certifications during their time at the school: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Security+, and Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician certifications.