GALLIPOLIS — With a new school year swinging into motion, Buckeye Hills Career Center took a moment to speak with Ohio Valley Publishing regarding its new focus on education for future jobs in the cybersecurity industry.
“Basically, here at Buckeye Hills Career Center,” said BHCC Superintendent Jamie Nash,”all of our partnering school districts pretty much have IT (information technology) programs in them. We’ve got a few different IT programs…We’ve got one called interactive media design and we’ve another that’s more like networking. I know from my perspective before I became superintendent last year, I had gone to about three national conferences on the implementation of cybersecurity and the development of those pathways. That was something I was interested in doing once I got here and I was pleased to see the talent we have when I got here.”
Buckeye Hills instructors started doing some implementation of course curriculum ideas last year. Shaun Northup, BHCC cybersecurity instructor, started to include cybersecurity education with his students at Gallia Academy High School. Rosalie Harper, a Buckeye Hills satellite teacher, also included cybersecurity with her students in Vinton County.
“They’ve done a lot of continuing education with cybersecurity to implement it,” said Nash. “When I came on board and Ellen McCabe came on board as our new (Dean of Partnerships) last year, we wanted to open the flood gates for Shaun and Rosalie and it took off. Big picture…we wanted to bring cybersecurity to the main campus and the big reason for that is we want to give every kid in the three county system (Vinton, Jackson and Gallia) access to it.”
Nash claimed cybersecurity was a career with a high future for growth over the coming 10 years with reportedly 1.8 million jobs to be created nationally in the next 10 years. Industry credentials for graduates, Nash said, could potentially be making between $40,000 to $60,000 a year and more with following degrees.
“When people think cybersecurity, they think the military but that’s not all it is,” said Nash. “There’s the banking industry, education, healthcare and all those are major players.”
“We started at Gallia Academy last year and we didn’t truly teach cybersecurity,” said Northup. “We had some kids interested in our student organization, BPA (Business Professionals of America). I told the students it wasn’t part of my pathway yet but I can implement this into the after school program. I had some very diligent kids who came after school and studied the cybersecurity program with me. We had three freshmen and two sophomores who placed in the top 20 testing in cybersecurity for BPA and out of that top 20, those students placed in the top 10 by giving a presentation on cybersecurity.”
In a BPA competition in Anaheim, California, last year, Buckeye Hills students competed with other students from across the country for nine of the top 10 spots in the competition. The center took 34 students to Anaheim to compete nationally, said McCabe.
“We’re proud of those kids and we are not even in full implementation of our program yet,” said Nash. “It reflects well on them and their teachers.”
“If you look at the students, I think it’s impressive them getting in the top 10 because in this particular project, you had to not only test, present the next phase and in the third phase you had to prove your skills and actually do the job,” said Northup. “What’s unique for me is that I jumped into IT at the college level. I didn’t have career tech. So for me, a lot of the students in my class were ahead of me and I kind of struggled. What we’ve done here is we’ve partnered with big industry people like Cisco to put in the Cisco Net Academy. Students start from the beginning. You don’t have to have any previous knowledge of anything. They walk you step through step, this is what a PC is and how you get started all the way up to how to protect yourself and keep someone from hacking a bank account.”
Northup said the program allowed for smaller certifications that led to more complex ones.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342.