Columbia State, WCS to provide students cyber defense courses

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Columbia State, WCS Cyber Defense

(Standing, left to right): Jeremy Qualls, Williamson County Schools director of college, career and technical education; John Waltz, Workforce Essentials military liaison; Dr. Dearl Lampley, Columbia State vice president for the Williamson Campus and external services; and Glenn Alison, Tractor Supply Company vice president of enterprise architecture. (Sitting, left to right): Jason Golden, Williamson County Schools superintendent, and Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president.

Columbia State Community College received the Governor’s Investment in Vocational Education grant that will allow the school to purchase a mobile unit to assist in offering cyber defense courses at Williamson County Schools.

The college recently hosted a signing event to solidify the partnership with Williamson County Schools.

“As we look at what the governor is wanting to do in high schools, we see the growth of vocational education that is giving our kids skills so that they can start a job when they get out of high school or they can continue developing those skills at a college or university,” said Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president. “I find that very exciting.”

This mobile unit will be a high-tech transformable classroom that will offer traditional classroom seating and areas for students to brainstorm and work in teams. The unit will also be used as the site for a hack-a-thon competition between schools that will serve to encourage students to pursue IT and cyber defense careers.

“We’re excited about this opportunity not only to bring high-tech training to high school students, but also to help increase the number of qualified IT employees in the region,” said Dr. Dearl Lampley, Columbia State vice president for the Williamson Campus and external services. “At any given time, there are 1,500 IT jobs available in Williamson County.”

Due to the limited availability of computer science instructors at the secondary level, this grant will provide additional opportunities for students who might not otherwise have access to this type of program.

“We can’t innovate and we can’t grow and we can’t look for new things without developing relationships in our community,” said Jason Golden, Williamson County Schools superintendent. “So, I’m very excited because this is exactly what we need to be doing, developing relationships with other groups that are serving our communities in a slightly different way but, ultimately, with the same goal.”

The program will provide multiple dual enrollment and dual credit opportunities for high school students. Students will have an opportunity to earn credit towards a technical certificate or associate of applied science degree in computer information technology with a concentration in cyber defense. The pilot of this program will begin in fall 2020 with a limited number of schools.

The GIVE program is designed to foster long-term regional partnerships between Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, community colleges, industry, economic development/workforce agencies and K-12 to identify and address “skills gaps” in local workforce pools. Through data-driven and collaborative work, Tennessee can ensure that educational institutions are producing the credentials employers need while also driving new industry to the state. To learn more about the GIVE program visit www.tn.gov.

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