The woman who brought the first student-operated cybersecurity center to Augusta Technical College sees a long future for the facility.
Augusta Tech is the first school in the Technical College System of Georgia to have a Security Operations Center (SOC).
The students in the college’s School of Cyber and Design Media get hands-on experience, working with real-world applications.
Tammy O’Brien, academic dean of the School of Cyber and Design Media, said the students operate the SOC in a classroom setting.
“They learn how to operate and run the SOC looking for anomalies that come in over the network. It gives them real-world experience that helps them get employed in that particular area,” she said. “Of course, this is combined with all our courses. So, it’s not one course that utilizes this area. It’s combined with them all, so the entire degree gives them that kind of experience. That gives them the high-level jobs.”
The students will also learn how to protect the network itself from vulnerabilities on all devices.
O’Brien said her students run the gamut of ages from teens to seniors.
“We have students from 17 to 70. We actually graduated a 70-year-old a couple of years ago,” she said. “They’re coming in as dual enrolled, they’re coming in as current employees, they’re coming in as retired military, they’re coming in as active military. They’re coming in not knowing how to use a computer. And they all have a pathway that they end up following because they found something that’s of interest to them.”
Augusta Tech President, Dr. Jermaine Whirl said the launch of the center comes on the heels of the recent implementation of the college’s initial offering of an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Cloud Computing and Solutions, as well as an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Accounting Cybersecurity. Those are both a first in Georgia.
“We look forward to additional innovations within the school for years to come,” Whirl added. “We are thrilled about the possibilities this SOC offers our students and the broader cybersecurity community. It is a testament to our commitment to providing cutting-edge education in this critical field.”
O’Brien said the recent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Augusta Tech and the Savannah River National Laboratory widens the job opportunities in the CSRA.
“Just knowing where they are and being able to see what’s out there firsthand shows them that they have a pathway, they will get employment, they will be productive citizens,” she said. “If they come to the program, put their nose to the grindstone, do a good job, they can have their pick of employment, because the levels are astronomical.”
During the MOU signing, Whirl said the college will launch a new apprenticeship technician pathway program in January 2024.
“They can start as a beginner, they can advance, they can get promotions, they can come in with security clearance and get a top-level job. We have all different areas of availability in the CSRA. And that’s what makes it so wonderful,” said O’Brien.
The School of Cyber and Design Media offers classes in fields such as computer networking and programming. Graduates can fill critical IT support positions for businesses and the government.
The school can also prepare students for careers in design-based industries such as branding, web design, advertising, and photography.
More information is available at www.augustatech.edu.