Sinclair’s Centerville center helps boost cyber defense training

Sinclair Community College’s new Centerville learning center has helped the school receive national recognition for its cyber security education program.

Sinclair is one of three community colleges in Ohio that earned the Center of Academic Excellence designation. This award is established by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security, with the support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and CyberWatch.

Kyle Jones, chair and Associate Professor of Sinclair’s Computer Information Services department, said the college last year received a federal grant award of nearly $1 million from the NSF to train cyber security professionals.

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“In our program, we have many opportunities and tools available to allow students to get hands-on experience in the areas of cyber defense sand cyber security,” he said. “The training pretty much covers the whole things, from cyber defense all the way down to someone just purchasing their ice cream - how to defend all of it.”

The Centerville Learning Center is a key part of Sinclair’s cyber security program.

“At the Centerville campus, we have developed top-of-the-line classrooms,” Jones said. “We bought some really nice equipment to have in place there.”

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Sinclair’s degrees, one-year certifications, and short-term certificates train students for entry-level positions in cyber security while developing hands-on skills in cyber defense and security. Students can receive multiple industry certifications through their programs of study.

“It seems today that cyber security issues are everywhere, and with all of our programs we are trying to dip our toes in a piece of all of it,” Jones said. “We focus on two different areas. The cyber forensics side - if you have a breach, we train people to find out what happened and how it happened. We have the cyber defense side - we are teaching students to defend networks so an attacker can’t get through.”

Sinclair was recruited by the NSF to be one of five community colleges nationwide to pilot the CyberCorps Scholarship for Service (SFS) program, which for decades was limited to four-year colleges.

The SFS program provides funding to institutions so that they can award students enrolled in cyber security related programs with scholarships.

Students enrolled in the SFS program are given a full-tuition scholarship and a living stipend. Sinclair’s project is a collaborative effort with Brookdale Community College in New Jersey and Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois.

In addition to scholarships and living stipends, the grant provides for professional development and experiential learning for the SFS scholars.

Students from Sinclair and the partner schools will travel together for visits to relevant federal agencies to learn about cyber security employment, and they will collaborate on regular supplemental instruction, webinars and other activities.

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