the Center for Systems Security and Information
Assurance (CSSIA), founded by the National
Science Foundation to give students and teachers a
wealth of educational resources, lab activities and
skills competition environments.
Since 2004, CSSIA has instructed more than
4,000 teachers and college faculty, with professional
development programming translating directly
into classroom curricula, says Sands, who also is
the center’s director. CSSIA’s 300 members—most of
them community colleges—share assessment tools
and instructional materials, receiving additional
mentorship from center officials on obtaining a
“We feel we’re the best network out there for
addressing cybersecurity shortages,” Sands says.
“The center is directly connected to what we do at
Cyber Watch West’s stated mission is to
increase the quality and quantity of the cyberse-
curity workforce throughout the western U.S. Led
by Whatcom, the organization builds teaching
modules concentrating on student, curriculum
and professional development, concurrently har-
nessing industry partnerships to further bolster
Cyber Watch sends instructors to cybersecurity conferences and compliance workshops that
attendees then introduce into their curriculum.
Members are updated on the latest NICE workforce
frameworks, which categorize cybersecurity work
roles and specialty areas.
“Our main role is to build the community so
nobody is isolated,” Sande says. “There’s no need
to go it alone. It’s a disservice to students if you’re
not aligning your programming with emerging
national standards. We’re benefitting people who
are preparing to go get a job.”
And jobs are out there to be had, notes Sands
of Moraine Valley.
“I’ve testified before Congress about the role
of community colleges in addressing the cybersecurity skills gap,” Sands says. “Most security
breaches are simple things like password polices
and ensuring operating systems are up to date.
There’s lots of universities out there producing
high-level security analysts, but community
colleges are the ones addressing the real work
shortage with technicians, operators and
Douglas J. Guth is an education writer based in Ohio.
equips 300 cyber