Washington Business Spring 2016 - Page 40

business backgrounder | education & workforce Teaching Cybersecurity Bellingham is a West Coast hub of cybersecurity training, thanks to CyberWatch West and the computer information systems program headquartered at Whatcom Community College. Brian Mittge The National Science Foundation has four centers for cybersecurity education. For the West Coast, that hub is in Bellingham, where students learn the important skills necessary to protect America’s electronic infrastructure from hackers. Whatcom’s program is so successful that many students have job offers before they graduate from the two-year program or connect with a related four-year degree at nearby Western Washington University. “CyberWatch West has been a huge leadership role for WCC, and I think it’s made a big difference in the community as well. We’re all behind it here.” — Mark Knittel, former chairman, Technology Alliance Group for Northwest Washington In our increasingly online and networked world, the need for cybersecurity has never been higher. As employers look for highly skilled workers, their gaze is increasingly turning to Washington state. Whatcom Community College (WCC), despite being on the far northwest corner of the United States, is on the cutting edge of protecting our nation from cybersecurity threats. The college is the center of efforts to ensure that the entire West Coast has a strong pipeline of well-trained cybersecurity workers. The program is called CyberWatch West, and it’s located in Bellingham, Washington. a need for security I n 2 0 14, Bu r n i n g G l a s s Te c h n o l o g i e s, a B o st o n based employment analysis firm, identified 238,158 cybersecurity-related jobs posted nationally, and as wireless connectivity expands, big gaps are projected in qualified applicants. Foreseeing that need, the computer program at WCC has turned from network support to cybersecurity. Its work has gained the attention of the National Science Foundation, the FBI and the National Security Agency (NSA). Corrinne Sande is WCC’s director of computer science and information systems. She is also CyberWatch West’s principal investigator (PI) and director. Sande arrived at WCC in 1999 to find a computer support specialist program in need of upgrades. She added a network security course in 2000, and after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, she saw a growing need for people who understood security. 40 association of washington business