Cyber Talk Radio: New Cyber P-TECH High School Brings Unique Opportunities
Bret Piatt, CTR Host, and Ashlyn Barrientes, Cyber P-TECH High School Coordinator - Episode 120 of Cyber Talk Radio
This past Saturday, January 12, episode 120 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by Ashlyn Barrientes, the P-TECH Coordinator at Cyber P-TECH High School, to discuss a partnership with St. Philip’s at Cyber P-TECH High School, where students will have the opportunity to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity degree.
Ashlyn begins this episode by explaining the fundamentals of the Pathways in Technology Early College High School, better known as Cyber P-TECH High School, a technology program for high school students in Bexar County starting this August at Sam Houston High School. At this school, students will have the chance to work toward an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Cybersecurity in addition to receiving other industry certifications. The application and enrollment process is simple and removes barriers to entry such as standardized test results or prerequisite courses — an open and blind lottery will determine the recipients of 150 places, and there will also be a waitlist for those who are not placed immediately. This ensures a fair and equal opportunity for students to receive access to specialized education, and because this is an San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) program, tuition and transportation to the campus is absolutely free, removing yet more barriers.
This brings us to discuss why San Antonio decided that it needed a specialized cybersecurity-focused program like this: The city’s cybersecurity hub has a lot of high demand and high wage career opportunities, and the SAISD superintendent has had the foresight to initiate a program that developed this kind of talent from within the community. St. Philip’s College has teamed with SAISD to create a career pathway curriculum for the students to obtain certificates and awards from tenth to 12th grade, receiving credits in the Alamo College dual credit system, where they will be full time high school and college students when enrolled in the program. Accenture Federal Services, DC Industries, MIMS Institute Fellows, and Tech Skills on Wheels are all partnering with the school to make this program happen. The essential opportunities that students need to become experienced professionals, like hands-on experience, mentorship and internships, will be readily available for them at Cyber P-TECH High School, in addition to standard high school extracurricular activities, raising the bar for what students can achieve in the technology field early on in their careers.
In the second half of the episode, Ashlyn and I chatted about Senate Bill 22, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2017, which allowed the Texas Education Agency to launch P-TECH programs like this one. The school district and St. Philip’s College will provide the technological materials, such as laptops and software and cover the fees for certification tests. Ashlyn tells us that the real difference between other technology programs like CAST Tech and Cyber P-TECH is the end result of an Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity degree, although CAST Tech programs do have their own advantages as well. Linux Installation and Configuration as well as Fundamentals of Networking Technologies are some of the college courses that students take in the first two semesters that will take them straight to the real information that they’ll need to know to gain skills for cybersecurity work. Though the things that students learn will directly apply to the cybersecurity field, those skills also encourage students to understand and use important lifelong problem solving and adaptation abilities. Cyber P-TECH High School is an essential intitivative for the city of San Antonio to be developing talented and resourceful cybersecurity professionals from the ground up.
Cyber P-TECH High School is still accepting applications until February 8, 2019! Listen to the full episode replay to learn more about the new SAISD tech initiative.
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