America’s Community Colleges launch NSA Day of Cyber

America’s Community Colleges launch NSA Day of Cyber

Day of Cyber recently interviewed Casey O’ Brien, Director and Principal Investigator of the National CyberWatch Center, to get his perspective on the explosive demand for cybersecurity professionals and the role community colleges play in preparing students for the thousands of open and unfilled jobs in cybersecurity and why the NSA Day of Cyber can inspire more students to pursue careers in IT.

Day of Cyber: Casey, tell us about the National Cyberwatch Center’s mission and impact on cyber education.

Mr. O’ Brien: The National CyberWatch Center is a consortium of higher education institutions, businesses, and government agencies focused on collaborative efforts to advance Information Security education/research and strengthen the national cybersecurity workforce. The National CyberWatch Center has model cybersecurity curricula available, including multiple degree and certificate programs.

Our mission is to increase the quantity and quality of the Information Security workforce. This means we have sufficient number of people moving into InfoSec jobs and that they have the right kinds of skills. We have developed cost-effective and scalable solutions that include: faculty professional development; degrees and certificates; content solutions; competitions with job fair and internship components; accelerated workforce development programs; research on effective workforce development practices; Labor Market Demand research; created the National Cybersecurity Student Association; and more.

Day of Cyber: How does the NSA Day of Cyber align with the Center’s mission?

Mr. O’ Brien: The NSA Day of Cyber supports the National CyberWatch mission by focusing on a critical piece missing from the larger workforce shortage discussion, namely, what kinds of jobs exist in cyber and what does one need to do to get that job? By showcasing a day in the life of various cyber professionals, we can start aligning academic and training pathways to these positions, thus, increasing the quantity of InfoSec professionals. Many community colleges are using the NSA Day of Cyber as a platform to recruit new students from area high schools by hosting a “Day of Cyber” at their college.

Day of Cyber: What is one of the biggest challenges community colleges face with getting students into the workforce?

Mr. O’ Brien: One of the biggest challenge is the lack of understanding on the part of industry and government agencies of the role of community colleges in our educational and workforce development systems. Plus, many cyber jobs today have the unnecessary requirement of a bachelor’s degree.

Day of Cyber: Where can you learn more about the National CyberWatch Center’s cyber education resources?

Mr. O’ Brien: For a comprehensive list of the National CyberWatch programs and resources, see