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Merritt College named Cyber FastTrack National “Top Tier College,” Leads California in cybersecurity talent discovery

29 April 2019

OAKLAND, Calif. (April 29, 2019) – Merritt College in Oakland, Calif. has reached the Top Tier (the top three percent) of U.S. colleges in identifying students with a natural aptitude to excel in cybersecurity.

Merritt College Cybersecurity Program students play a pivotal role in the national initiative launched by 25 state governors to close the elite cyber skills gap with China and Russia. After 17 days of Cyber FastTrack competition, Merritt College was ranked second in California and 33rd in the nation, out of 5,200 US colleges, in the number of students discovering their aptitude for cybersecurity careers. The open access discovery opportunity ends on May 10, 2019.

The state-by-state Cyber FastTrack leaderboard is posted at:

https://www.sans.org/cyber-fast-track/state-ranking

National rankings:

https://www.sans.org/cyber-fast-track/nationally-ranked

According to Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, “The leadership shown by Merritt College is commendable. Without the talent being discovered in Cyber FastTrack, shortages of elite talent will put the United States at a severe disadvantage in protecting power systems, financial systems and military systems in times of conflict, and protecting businesses and personal privacy in peacetime. Merritt College has set a high bar for other schools in California and in the nation.” 

Students who do well in the assessment will win access to a simulation/game called CyberStart in which they solve increasingly challenging real-world problems faced by cybersecurity professionals. They will also gain access to CyberStart Essentials, a hands-on, on-line cybersecurity foundations course, and they will become eligible for $2.5 million in scholarships for advanced study in cybersecurity and direct connections to employers seeking elite cyber talent. 

SANS Institute partnered with 25 state governors to launch Cyber FastTrack. “It takes very little work to expand participation and many students are surprised to learn they have a lot of talent and like the challenges,” added Paller. 

In launching Cyber Fastrack, the governors encouraged high school students (during March/April) and college students (April/May) to discover whether they liked cybersecurity challenges and had the tenacity, curiosity, and problem-solving skills needed by professionals in the field.

More information on Cyber FastTrack may be found at: https://www.cyber-fasttrack.org/

The Cyber FastTrack program rewards creativity while at the same time provides skills that could be used to land a well-paid job, so the 42 students from Merritt we have participating are really enjoying the challenge, said Marie-Elaine Burns, Ph.D., president, Merritt College. Our society is more dependent upon digital information than ever before, and protecting that information from cybersecurity threats has become a crucial aspect of information technology.

“That crisis makes our cybersecurity program increasingly popular and our graduates in keen demand,” she added. “In fact, we are proud to be graduating our fourth class of qualified cybersecurity professionals at Merritt College in May.”

The Consortium of Information Systems Executives (CISE), as well as leading CIOs/CISOs from across the Bay Area, developed Merritt College’s accredited two-year degree program in Applications and Infrastructure Security to address this crisis.

Merritt College is currently the only California community college to offer an Associate Degree in Information Security. The program was designed and is taught by San Francisco Bay Area Thought Leaders from companies including Symantec, McAfee, and Wells Fargo Online Banking, and has earned the support of Congressman Ro Khanna for its innovative approach to strengthening cybersecurity. CISE is dedicated to assisting less advantaged students with a one-of-a-kind opportunity and the program’s unique curriculum offers hands-on learning with real-world security systems to ensure graduates are prepared for the future of information security. For more information, visit: https://cisesecurity.com/

About SANS Institute

The SANS Institute was established in 1989 as a cooperative research and education organization. SANS is the most trusted and, by far, the largest provider of cyber security training and certification to professionals at governments and commercial institutions world-wide. Renowned SANS instructors teach over 60 different courses at more than 200 live cyber security training events as well as online. GIAC, an affiliate of the SANS Institute, validates a practitioner’s qualifications via over 30 hands-on, technical certifications in cyber security. The SANS Technology Institute, a regionally accredited independent subsidiary, offers master’s degrees in cyber security. SANS offers a myriad of free resources to the InfoSec community including consensus projects, research reports, and newsletters; it also operates the Internet’s early warning system–the Internet Storm Center. At the heart of SANS are the many security practitioners, representing varied global organizations from corporations to universities, working together to help the entire information security community. (https://www.sans.org)

About Merritt College

Nestled in the hills above San Francisco Bay, Merritt College in Oakland, Calif. offers students the opportunity to study in one of the most dramatic natural settings in Northern California. With a panorama that includes the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean, Merritt’s striking vistas provide a breathtaking backdrop for a packed roster of first-rate academic and vocational programs. One of the four colleges that make up the Peralta Community College District, Merritt boasts acclaimed programs in cybersecurity, community social services, registered nursing, child development, nutrition & dietetics, environmental studies, and landscape horticulture. Visit www.merritt.edu

About the Peralta Community College District

Founded in 1964, the Peralta Community College District (PCCD) is a collaborative community of colleges comprised of Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, and Laney and Merritt colleges in Oakland, Calif. The Peralta Colleges provide a dynamic multicultural learning environment offering accessible, high-quality educational programs and services, including two-year degrees, certificates and university transfer programs, to more than 30,000 students. PCCD is home to award-winning Peralta TV (Comcast ch. 27/28, AT&T ch. 99) and public radio KGPC 96.9 FM. To learn more about The Peralta Colleges, visit www.peralta.edu

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Spencer Moore, Peralta Community College District

o (510) 466-7369, c (415) 317-7100, spencermoore@peralta.edu

or

Alan Paller, SANS Institute

(301) 520-2835, apaller@sans.edu

Filed under: Merritt College, Peralta News. Tagged: , , , , , ,

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