Cyber Talk Radio: Texas’ First Cybersecurity Apprenticeship

Bret Piatt, CTR Host and Buddy Smith, ISHPI VP of Joint Forces Programs - Week 108 of Cyber Talk Radio

Show Summary

This past Sunday, October 21, episode 108 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by [Buddy Smith, VP of Joint Forces Programs] at ISHPI (, to discuss a new cybersecurity apprenticeship program developed and run by ISHPI and Project Quest.

How was Texas’ first cybersecurity apprenticeship program come about? Buddy takes us through ISHPI’s background and how the apprenticeship program started through a training program that they created to teach secure software development. Formally called, The Community Initiative Center of Excellence for Secure Software – San Antonio, (CICESS-SA) the apprenticeship program is a collaboration of San Antonio employers, the Alamo Community College, which serves as the academic coursework provider, and Project QUEST Inc., a non-profit economic development organization providing program administration support and grant funding. According to ISHPI, the CICESS-SA initiative combines academic theory and work experience to train a globally competitive workforce in developing software that is secure from cyber-attacks

ISHPI currently has an apprenticeship program running in Peoria, IL and now has the first cohort starting in San Antonio this month. How can students learn more about the program and apply? First, you must be a student at Alamo Community College and take a few computer aptitude tests.  Project Quest handles the administrative process for applicants so they are a great resource for anyone looking to get involved in the program and have questions. Students are a key ingredient to the success of the program. However, the employers that participate in the apprenticeship are another key ingredient. Without the involvement of local employers, the students would not be able to experience work-based learning to develop skills specific to the industry. How does the apprenticeship program balance school and work at the same time? Students in the program spend between 19-25 hours a week splitting up their time working and attending school. This gives the students the ability to learn industry-defined competencies and requirements as well as a standardized curriculum. At the end of the program, students will walk away with two certifications including associates CSSLP secure software development certification and SEI certification. These are two certifications that most college graduates don’t walk away with and are very valuable for private and public sector job roles.

Where do employers go to get involved? Contact Buddy or Project Quest to see how your business can get involved. The program needs a lot more businesses to get involved for future cohorts! The first San Antonio cohort has six students participating with the requirement of meeting 2,000 hours. Majority of the employers for this cohort have Department of Defense contracts so they also require a certain level of security clearance which is another security status for the students to achieve and put on their resume. Coming up in a few weeks, November 6-7, 2018, Buddy and the ISHPI team will be at booth #4 at the Alamo ACE event if you want to talk about the program and how to get involved!

To close out the show, I share some context and real-life examples of why secure software development is more important than ever especially with the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Be sure to listen to the episode all the way through to the end!

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