Hood cyber partnership wins national award

Submitted photo
Hood Provost Debbie Ricker and Casey W. O’Brien, executive director and principal investigator of the National CyberWatch Center

FREDERICK, Md. — Hood College’s cyber pipeline has won the 2019 National CyberWatch Center’s “Innovations in Cyber Security Education” award in the program development category.

In an effort to support the growing need for trained professionals in the cybersecurity field, Hood has worked to establish a formal cyber pipeline that offers students degrees at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

Students who graduate from Frederick Community College with an associate degree in cybersecurity can transfer credits toward a cybersecurity bachelor’s degree at Mount St. Mary’s University. Students in the Mount’s program are eligible to take courses at Hood that will count toward their bachelor’s degrees and have the opportunity to waive foundational courses upon entry into Hood’s master’s program.

The “Innovations in Cyber Security Education” awards program showcases a range of creative and pioneering ideas across four categories: evidence-based strategies, instruction, practice, and program development.

“One goal of this program is to accelerate the adoption and adaptation of new ideas throughout the academic and workforce development communities, while at the same time, recognizing individuals and organizations for their work,” said Casey W. O’Brien, executive director at the National CyberWatch Center. “This cyber pipeline initiated by Hood achieves this goal by providing a single, unified degree pathway toward a career in cybersecurity.”

This three-school partnership saves students tuition money and time, offers seamless sharing of computer lab facilities and software, provides unique cross-mentorship and collaboration opportunities with faculty from multiple institutions, and allows for students to meet privately with experts in the cybersecurity field who speak at Hood’s Cotton Cyber Series.

“This award is a reflection of Hood’s commitment to strategic regional partnerships developed in support of a critical need in the state of Maryland,” said Hood Provost Debbie Ricker, who accepted the award at a summit in Louisiana on July 30. “The cyber pipeline we have built, connecting students at all three institutions, is a one-of-a-kind model. It is innovative in its design and responsive to student demand for an educational option that is both time- and cost-effective.

“Behind this award is an amazingly talented team of Hood College faculty and staff who have brought this partnership to life. It is a true testament to their commitment to the students we serve.”