NICERC Cybersecurity Pathway opens career options for Louisiana students

Louisiana students now have the opportunity to earn a STEM seal on their diplomas by completing courses outlined in the newly implemented cybersecurity pathway developed by the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC), the academic division of the Cyber Innovation Center.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) voted Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019 to add the NICERC cybersecurity pathway to its list of approved options for Louisiana students to include on their diplomas and better prepare them for higher education and career paths.

Students can engage in a program of study that combines computer science, engineering, and mathematics through hands-on projects and interaction with industry professionals. The pathway will immerse students in topics such as privacy and security, artificial intelligence ethics, device safety, and complex computing systems, students will be better prepared to compete in the 21st century cyber workforce.

Kevin Nolten, the director of academic outreach for NICERC says the only way to keep our country’s cyberspace safe is to prepare the next generation for cybersecurity careers.

“This is a huge win for the state of Louisiana and our country as a whole,” Nolten says. “We’ve seen a growing shortage of cybersecurity professionals and this cybersecurity pathway is an important step in lessening that gap. The more students aware of and interested in cybersecurity degrees and careers, the brighter the future looks for our nation.”

Pathway coursework prepares TOPS University and Jump Start TOPS Tech diploma-seeking students for cyber career paths by immersing them in the fundamentals of cyber as well as its impact and application in the workforce.

“All of our private information, pictures of our families and children, even most of our money and records of assets live on a server somewhere and are susceptible to cyber attacks,” Nolten says. “The fact is there aren’t enough trained cybersecurity professionals to fill all of the jobs out there, and we’re counting on the next generation to protect us.”

In order to better meet workforce demands, the Louisiana Department of Education, the Louisiana Board of Regents, the LaSTEM Council, and the Governor’s office have teamed up to ensure Louisiana’s students have exposure to STEM courses and credentials starting in elementary school and continuing through college.  Louisiana STEM pathways are part of the Jump Start Initiative, Louisiana’s innovative career and technical education (CTE) program. These pathways better prepare students to seek a STEM degree in college or enter the workforce, having earned certifications in high-wage career sectors.