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Louisiana Tech University’s Cyber Education Certificate was showcased during a recent U.S. Department of Education STEM briefing.

Chuck Gardner, director of curriculum with CYBER.ORG, and Lindsey Vincent, associate dean in the College of Education and director of the Science and Technology Education Center at Louisiana Tech University, discussed the importance of cyber education. They spoke of the availability of cybersecurity resources and materials for the PK-12 sector. Gardner and Vincent also showcased successful partnership efforts, including the cyber education certificate and the associated tuition assistance offered to teachers throughout the nation during the fall 2020 academic term.

The Cyber Education certificate program prepares educators to teach cyber and computer science content. Teachers who complete the year-long program will not only be ideal candidates to become STEM and cyber leaders at their schools but will be capable of using 21st-century learning techniques to connect students with cyber-related careers. Since launching the initial cohort a few years ago, many educators from across the country have completed the four-course sequence and received the Cyber Education certificate.

“This is another example of the innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education essential for our next generation of college students and a cyber-aware workforce,” said Tech President Dr. Les Guice. “Our College of Education stepped to the forefront in helping create a certificate program in cyber education and security, and our partnership with CYBER.ORG will enhance teacher competency and student awareness in an area that is critical to our national security.”

Other panelists included Albert Palacios, education program specialist with the Office of Career, Adult, and Technical Education with the U.S. Department of Education; Davina Pruitt-Mentle, lead for academic engagement with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education at the National Institute of Standards and Technology; and two 2020 Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award winners: Kara Four Bear, principal of New Town Middle School, and Donna Woods, CTE cyber academic pathway dual-enrollment instructor with Canyon Springs High School and Moreno Valley College.

CYBER.ORG partners frequently with Louisiana Tech’s COE in various initiatives. Gardner mentioned that the cyber education program included free classroom resources, such as curricular resources for K-12 educators, CTE resources for teachers in a career-prep course, and educational opportunities for teachers looking to expand their classroom capabilities.

“CYBER.ORG has been providing free resources to educators from across the country since 2011, and we have only met 20,000 of the more than 3 million educators in the country,” Gardner said. “Events like this reinforce the fact that there is still so much work to be done when it comes to providing all educators and all students with rigorous and relevant curricula in the areas of STEM, cyber and computer science.

“Not only do we feel that it is an important task for the state of education in this country but also because it is an issue of national security. As the number of available jobs in this country in cybersecurity approaches the 1 million mark, those are critical positions that leave consumers, companies, and corporations vulnerable to cyber attacks in one form or another. We must begin to consider the next generation workforce or today’s K-12 students, as a critical component to filling these jobs.”

Anyone who is a certified educator and wishes to enroll in the first course of the sequence at no cost this fall, email [email protected] For more information about the SciTEC division of the College of Education, email [email protected] To learn more about cyber.org (formerly known as NICERC), visit cyber.org. 

To attend future US DOE panels focused on STEM education, email [email protected] Archived U.S. Department of Education STEM Education Briefings can be found at https://www.ed.gov/stem.

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