Late last year Queens College students were emailed an invitation to attend the beta-test cybersecurity course being offered at the Tech Incubator during the Spring semester of 2018 with the cooperation of iQ4 and CWA (Cybersecurity Workforce Alliance). This was marketed as a non-credit class with a a few ultimate goals in mind:
- To give students a fundamental understanding of the cybersecurity workforce and the members that make it up.
- To provide an in-deph look at the ever evolving cybersecurity threat and why it is so important to be prepared.
- To give students the opportunity to present themselves and their work in a professional setting where mentors in the industry could critique their work and help them build better business and professional skills.
While the class is a non-credit it does come with a few benefits/opportunities. The first is the promise of a certificate of achievement at the end showing that the students have completed the work they were assigned and are well-trained in the concept of ‘the threat within’. The second is the chance to make a good impression on their mentors who are experts in this industry by showcasing their work over the course of these 13 weeks. Everything from letters of recommendation to networking and potential internships the possibilities coming out of this class seem endless!
But what does all this mean? Are students literally hacking into businesses? Is it a coding based class? Do you need to be a computer science major to take it?
Well, lets consider the last three questions, no, no and no. You most definitely do not have to be a computer science major to take this class. In fact, we encourage all students to take it as an educational course as it touches upon a large issue in today’s technology driven society. All companies in the world have a cybersecurity division making these skills handy and, in some cases, necessary.
Also, this class is not coding based. It is formatted strictly from a business perspective which is meant to provide students with scenarios which they prepare for and present to their mentors. One example would be one of the first assignments students are given: to pretend they are an independent firm hired by a bank and sketch out an infographic and a presentation to describe what their role is in the company and how their firm can help this hypothetical bank keep their information secure. The students then present these assignment to their mentors as a team on a weekly basis. So, no, we are not hacking into the NSA.
So, is the class purely digital?
Yes and no. The class is taught once a week in a classroom located in the Queens College Tech Incubator. The class assignments as well as mentor presentations/sessions are all digital but teams must meet during this designated time once a week to both present and begin work on the following week’s assignment. There are also three TA’s available to assist with any questions during this time and offer office hours if necessary.
Is there a midterm? A final?
There is no midterm for this class. Students only duty is to partake in the weekly team and individual assignments and submit both on time. The final assignment for this semester’s class was recently announced as students will be taking their final project to Lazarus Bank in New York City at the end of May and present it to a hypothetical bank ‘board’ in an attempt to showcase all the skills they have acquired over these past 13 weeks.
Talk is good, but how are students liking it so far? Will you be offering it next semester?
As of right now, there are two classes being taught with a total of six teams actively working together (total of about 50 students) to complete these projects. The feedback so far from both the mentors and the students has been great and, in the spirit of beta testing, we hope that any issues/problems we have had to this point can be taken into account as a lesson should we have the opportunity to teach this class next semester again. More on that later in the year!
The final presentation and graduation at Lazard Bank:
P.S. The Tech Incubator will be offering this class again in the Fall 2018. For more details and to register, please use this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-internship-cybersecurity-fall-2018-tickets-47624228349