Not everyone is cut out for a career in cybersecurity, and the University of Phoenix’s Augusta campus said it wants to help people find that out before they invest in an education in the growing industry.
The try-it-before-you-buy-it message was part of the “Cyber Experience Day” the university organized Thursday at its westside campus. Visitors ranging from law enforcement officers to middle school teachers were able to participate in hands-on exercises and information sessions.
Dennis Bonilla, the executive dean of the campus’ College of Information Systems and Technology, said displays of cutting-edge technology such as Microsoft’s HoloLens and Google Cardboard were just a couple of the “modules” used to educate the public about cyber education.
“A lot of people hear about cyber jobs and are excited by the salaries, but until they dip their toes in the water, they won’t know if they could be making a poor career decision,” he said. “We want them to find out if they’re good at – and passionate about it – before they invest in that education.”
The Perimeter Parkway campus, which has more than 750 students, has made cyber education its top program. Bonilla was brought in three years ago to retool the IT curriculum after the Pentagon announced that the U.S. Army Cyber Command would relocate to Fort Gordon.
He said the campus is essentially developing a mini-version of the RedFlint Innovation Experience Center that the for-profit university created in Las Vegas, where the downtown area is becoming known as a growing hub of technology and innovation.
RedFlint’s modules and workshops provide visitors with an experiential, hands-on learning environment to help them innovate in their companies and in their own careers.
Though many institutions already offer cyber education, including local school systems, universities and technical colleges, Bonilla said the University of Phoenix’s Augusta campus is more geared toward young working professionals and older people seeking advanced training.
Its IT courses, for example, are “stacked” so that students can earn certificates – such as the Cisco Certified Network Associate – while they pursue their degree, which makes it easier for them to work and attend classes at the same time.
He said the campus plans to be part of the local cyber “ecosystem.”
“There are various employers, nonprofits, institutions – all of us have to work together to become a cybersecurity center of excellence,” he said. “Not one institution is going to be able to satisfy the needs of the entire community.”
Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352