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  • Staff report

EPCC Awarded $50,000 Cybersecurity Grant from Microsoft

El Paso Community College (EPCC) is pleased to announce that it’s the recipient of a $50,000 grant from Microsoft Philanthropies to support its Cybersecurity program.

The funding will be used to procure mentorship and cutting-edge curriculum from the National Cybersecurity Training & Education Center (NCyTE), to build faculty knowledge through Microsoft training and certifications and to give financial assistance to EPCC students so they may overcome short-term obstacles and complete degrees or certificates in Cybersecurity or Computing.

Associate Professor of Computer Science Dr. Christian Servin said, “This opportunity permits students to learn state-of-the-art curriculum materials they can apply in their computing education pathways. Furthermore, it will assist students in completing their studies at EPCC.”

This grant funding is thanks to Microsoft's Techspark Texas, an initiative that is facilitating access to underserved groups so that everyone can participate in the digital economy. JJ Childress, the local Community Engagement Manager for the El Paso region explains, “Cybersecurity will be critical to ensuring that El Paso’s businesses and key services like healthcare, education, and government can thrive in an ever-increasing digital age. We have an opportunity to provide diverse and world-class talent to meet the needs of a highly in-demand profession.”

EPCC’s Cybersecurity program received the Center of Academic Excellence Designation (CAE2Y) in 2018 from the National Security Agency (NSA) by meeting rigorous program standards. Cybersecurity is an extensive area of study and includes everything from installing proper firewalls into a system to developing reverse-engineering techniques that recognize patterns in malicious software.

Dr. Christian Servin describes the crucial role Cybersecurity plays. “Currently, the world faces computing challenges that range from using their mobile device to developing national security software. Learning cyber-computer science will benefit any computing pathway to solve adversarial problems in the nation.”

A degree or certificate in Computer Science and Cybersecurity provides excellent job opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects more than 30% job growth by 2029 for this in-demand field, which is much higher than average.

Information Technology Systems (ITS) Professor Tony Vargas encourages people to enroll at EPCC and to pursue a degree. “Certifications are fine for mastering the emerging and current technology. However, Certifications will upgrade to embrace the evolving technology. For a technician to successfully upgrade to the new certificates, a requirement in most companies, a foundation of understanding for the technology is essential for the network professional. This understanding is what a program based in Cybersecurity can provide.”

More than 400 students have already completed a degree or certificate in Cybersecurity at EPCC. Many of these graduates work in regional positions in El Paso and surrounding areas. They serve the community in technology/cybersecurity positions with the military, banking, education and law enforcement agencies.

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