Cyber Talk Radio: Computer Information Systems and Security Degrees at Our Lady of the Lake University

Bret Piatt, CTR Host and Vanessa Clark from Our Lady of the Lake University - Episode 142 of Cyber Talk Radio

This past Saturday, June 15, episode 142 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by Vanessa Clark, assistant professor of computer information systems and security at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU), to discuss the university's available computer information systems and security degrees.

We kick off the episode by getting Vanessa to walk us through the goings-on at OLLU. There is increasing STEM engagement with K-12 students in their community, including involvement with local CyberPatriot teams. In grade school, teachers use grants to learn some tech skills, such as Java, but because not all teachers meet the requirements for these grants, there aren’t classes like AP computer science or programming. Programs like WeTeach_CS allow for teachers to get credentials, especially for the high school level. This shapes the nation’s students as early as kindergarten! It also helps to get students on college campuses from young age because it lessens the intimidation factor — it allows them to be more comfortable and being exposed to the environment early on lets them see it as a possibility for themselves. OLLU’s CyberSaints team on campus allows them to continue collaborative work through team-based regional and national cybersecurity and information technology competitions. Vanessa is also offering to teach a workshop on mobile device security and basic cybersecurity for individuals and companies with help from students!

After the break we get down to business and talk about OLLU’s new online degree — M.S. in ISS, which is accredited by the National Security Agency (NSA) — that allows for flexible scheduling for students who have difficulties graduating otherwise. This degree gives students a bootcamp — it teaches foundations to those who don't have CISS skills from undergraduate. It’s very intensive, but allows anyone to switch gears to get on the level that would allow to move forward in career change or give them a competitive edge in a job search. What's Vanessa’s favorite course to teach? Database Analysis and Design! The school offers web-based lab environments to allow for accessibility for students. They also have CCDC (Collegiate Cyber Defense Cup) team, which is just the continued college level of CyberPatriot. They also go to the USITCC (U.S. Information Technology Conference), a fairly new regional and national conference that brings in students from all over the country to attend sessions and participate in various competitions. All of these programs and groups and events are integral for students to build relationships and connections that will help them later on in their careers. OLLU has been designated as a National Center for Academic Excellence in cyber defense education by the NSA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This means that it’s part of an elite group of colleges and universities nationwide to receive the designation. This designation means that their curriculum is mapped to the requirements and topics given by the NSA, including the requirement that they provide hands-on experience in an on-campus security lab. What really makes these programs special is the access to higher certifications and training in the cybersecurity world.

Listen to the full episode replay to learn more about degrees in the cybersecurity field.

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