Maine Community College Becomes First in State to Offer Cybersecurity Program

Maine residents hoping to pursue a career in cybersecurity will finally be able to study the subject at community college.

Starting in fall 2020, Northern Maine Community College (NMCC) will be the first community college in the state to offer a cybersecurity program. NMCC said a group of at least 15 first-year students has already signed up to the course, which is comparable to those already available at Maine's other higher education institutions. 

The new two-year program is a revised version of NMCC's network administration and cybersecurity associate degree program. Instructor Reuben Caron said the reworking of the course reflected the changes that have occurred in the technological landscape since its creation. 

“The program began with computer electronics and evolved into computer networking and technology,” said Caron.

“As the program has evolved to meet industry needs, we knew there was a demand for graduates to be trained in network administration and security.”

NMCC’s program features a practical curriculum that will teach students how to build their own computers and private networks that will exist beyond the college's campus network. Students will learn how computers react to different cyber-attacks and experiment with various recovery tactics. 

Encompassed in the program are courses on computer security, ethical hacking, and computer forensics. 

With ethical hacking, you learn how someone might attack your network in order to understand how to better defend it,” Caron said. “Students learn how to hack in a way that doesn’t go beyond ethical hacking and into illegal situations.”

Students will end the program qualified for positions as computer technicians, network technicians, network administrators (Microsoft and Linux), and desktop support technicians. NMCC is currently pursuing accreditation for the program from the Accreditation Council of Business Schools and Programs. 

Business department chair Dwight Clayton said the new program was an excellent starting point for Mainers dreaming of a cybersecurity career, especially for those hoping to earn while they learn.

He said: "The great thing about a two-year program is that students can enter the workforce as they continue toward a bachelor’s degree."

The news follows the 2019 launch of a four-year cybersecurity program at local university the University of Maine at Presque Isle.

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