DMACC: Cyber security program coming in 2018

To meet a growing demand Des Moines Area Community College is offering a cyber security program starting in the fall of 2018.

The new four-term program will feature networking, security, Java, Cloud, composition and ethics classes plus a mandatory internship component.

Kyle Hess—Electronic Crime Institute Instructor—said he’s been meeting with local industry experts from financial, insurance and communication companies since February of 2016. The goal of those meetings was to find out what they want in a DMACC graduate, and make sure his students become that.

“The classes we’ve laid out, we ask if they like them,” Hess says. “There’s a lot of passion and experience and no fluff in this. I tried to build this with getting the most out of the education.”

The DMACC student center

Paving a job pipeline

Steve Barger—chair of the Homeland Security Program and a Criminal Justice Professor at Des Moines Area Community College—said for years the majority of forensic and cyber security jobs were directed at government entities.

“Jobs were somewhat locked up because they were done by sworn cops and not everybody wants to be a sworn cop,” Barger said. “But you bring in this private sector component, there is this need and that’s what we were missing.”

Barger said the cyber security program is designed to get jobs easily and locally. Or if they choose, they can seamlessly transition to Iowa State University to get a four-year degree.

“There are jobs and partnerships in place so when these guys finish, you don’t have to go into law enforcement,” Berger says. “You can finish at DMACC and go on if you choose to with a degree path, or try to enter the private sector.

“And every private sector company knows they need this. Because a cyber security incident will put you out of business.”

Berger said by providing students with the option to continue on to get a four-year degree or to enter the workforce, it makes the program a win-win for everybody.

“You aren’t going to follow a path that leads to nowhere,” Berger says. “A crucial thing this does is when you have the availability of jobs and you know it, we can offer internships and jobs paths.”

What happens between now and 2018

Hess said two more classes are still being built and additional instructors will be hired for the program.

“The partnerships with industry and the input we’ve already had will make this program fantastic,” Hess says. “If you turn around and see the level of experience and talent, everyone who teaches in this program has industry experience.”

Berger says it’s the real world experience professors bring to the classroom that will elevate the program.

“When you work in the industry or have worked in the industry, you can bring the book to life,” Berger says. “It’s not just taking the book and saying that’s right. I think that gains some credibility with the students.”

Hess said there’s a full face-to-face component but students can also earn the degree completely online.