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By Nikki Cabus

Palm Beach State College making strides in cyber; ranks in National Cyber League competition

Read Time 4 Minutes

The National Cyber League concluded the Spring 2024 NCL Competition with participation from 8,017 students and 737 high schools, colleges, and universities from all over the United States and Palm Beach State College ranked 42nd in the competition. 

Established in 2011 by an alliance of public agencies dedicated to developing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals, the National Cyber League is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization aiming to help students develop, practice and validate their cybersecurity knowledge and skills. The NCL Competition, powered by Cyber Skyline, is a biannual event that enables students to prepare and test themselves against practical cybersecurity challenges that they will likely face in the workforce, such as identifying hackers from forensic data, pentesting and auditing vulnerable websites, recovering from ransomware attacks, and additional cyber skill sets.

Founded in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, Palm Beach State College has been an integral player in the growth and prosperity of Palm Beach County. Our graduates impact every industry and are community and business leaders. With more than 130 programs of study, PBSC offers bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, professional certificates, career training and lifelong learning. Nearly 36,000 students enroll annually in onsite, online, live online and hybrid classes at five convenient locations in Belle Glade, Boca Raton, Lake Worth, Loxahatchee Groves and Palm Beach Gardens, and through PBSC Online.

“We’re thrilled to announce that Palm Beach State College has made a remarkable impact in the Spring 2024 Cyber Power Rankings,” stated John Hadley, District Dean of Business & Computer Science at Palm Beach State College.

“Palm Beach State College’s outstanding performance in these rigorous challenges highlights our commitment to excellence in cybersecurity education and training. We are proud of our students’ dedication, hard work, and achievements.”

The Cyber Power Rankings were created by Cyber Skyline in partnership with the National Cyber League (NCL). Every year, over 10,000 students from more than 500 colleges & universities and 100 high schools across the US participate in the NCL competitions. These rankings represent the ability of students from these schools to perform real-world cybersecurity tasks on the Cyber Skyline platform. Students had to identify hackers from forensic data, pentest & audit vulnerable websites, recover from ransomware attacks, and more. Schools are ranked based on their top team performance, their top student’s individual performance, and the aggregate individual performance of their students.

Cyber students at Palm Beach State ranked 42th nationally and 18th among eastern colleges for the Spring 2024 competetion. This rank is an improvement from the Fall 2023 seaon when they ranked 57th nationally. This current ranking makes Palm Beach State the Cyber Power Rankings leader among the South Florida colleges.

From a Cyber Pathways Grant to the Cyber Symposium hosted at Palm Beach State’s Lake Worth campus, the college has been stepping it up and making a name for themselves for cybersecurity education in South Florida. The symposium was the latest initiative from PBSC’s growing push into cybersecurity.

In 2023, The National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security have named Palm Beach State College a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense through 2027. The CAE Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) designation is awarded to regionally accredited academic institutions that offer quality cybersecurity-related degrees and/or certificates and meet rigorous requirements to prepare students for the nation’s cybersecurity workforce.

Currently, in PBSC’s Center for Cyber Defense, students are offered a two-year associate degree upon which they can then follow with another two-year program to earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Information Management with a concentration in Security and Network Assurance. In Fall 2024, PBSC will expand its existing cybersecurity program with new degrees in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.  “Nationally, we’re having conversations on a skills gap in the field of cybersecurity, said PBSC’s John Hadley. “Our job in admissions is to fill those gaps.”

Additionally, students that participate in the NCL receive valuable performance data through individualized Scouting Reports, which aligns their experience to industry certifications and government standards. With these reports, they are able to showcase tangible evidence of their technical skills to employers.

“NCL is one of the most important venues to reinforce classroom learning,” said NCL Coach and Cybersecurity Instructor at the United States Military AcademyMax Love. “In a traditional classroom setting with slides, lectures, and practical exercises, students can lose focus on the spark of curiosity that drove them to learn more about this field. In the heat of competition, they can find that spark again and suddenly the lessons of the classroom carry a whole new meaning when it helps them overcome the challenge right in front of them.”

Registration for the Fall 2024 NCL Competition is open from Aug. 19 to Oct. 11. The cost to participate is $35, with late registration from Oct. 12 to 15 and a cost increase to $45.

To get more info or join the next competition, visit https://nationalcyberleague.org/competition

By Nikki Cabus

U.S. Department of Labor awards Palm Beach State College a $1.75 million grant to expand skilled trades training

Read Time 4 Minutes

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the award of $65 million in grants to 16 colleges in 14 states to expand their capacity to provide training to meet the skill development needs of employers and help students obtain good jobs. One of those colleges was Palm Beach State College. 

At a press conference held on April 15th, U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel announced that Palm Beach State College is not only one of sixteeen colleges nationwide to receive funds, but the only one in Florida to receive $1.75 million in funding in this fourth round of Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants.

“Florida’s population is growing—by more than 1,000 people a day—and there’s lots and lots of building going on.” Rep. Frankel stated.

“Here’s the challenge: 85% of the contractors in this country are having a problem finding workers, and Palm Beach County is almost at the top of that list. We are blessed to have in this county a college that responds to the needs of the workforce. This grant is a very big boost, not only for students but for our county.”

Administered by the department’s Employment and Training Administration, the fourth round of Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants will support individual community colleges, as well as consortia of colleges, to prepare students for jobs that pay family-sustaining wages and offer career development opportunities based on the Good Jobs Principles developed by the departments of Labor and Commerce in 2022. Grantees will work with industry stakeholders to identify the workforce needs of multiple employers within a selected industry in the labor market area.

“Training programs should not end in a job search; they should end in a job. The Biden-Harris administration is investing in training programs that are demand-driven; Strengthening Community Colleges grants will help connect people to good jobs and employers to the people they need,” said Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su.

“The Department of Labor is awarding funding today that will help community colleges equip workers with the skills they need right now, and that will strengthen workforce infrastructure in their respective communities.”

Palm Beach State will dedicate the funds to expanding its plans to transform construction trades education at the College, which started with the $1 million award PBSC received in January from the Lowe’s Foundation. The new Labor Department grant will go toward personnel, employer and student outreach, technology and resources to increase enrollment, persistence and completion in construction pathway programs. The grant will elevate PBSC’s capacity to provide many more students, particularly those from marginalized and underrepresented populations, with equitable access to real-world training that equips them to succeed in the construction sector, with the goal of creating an inclusive pipeline of qualified workers for the construction-related jobs waiting to be filled.

“This grant is important for us because it allows us to expand and be more responsive to our community,” said PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D. “We have the best students in the county, and because of this support, we’ll be able to build a dynamic pathway to a sustainable future for students who can prosper in a skilled trade.”

Julia Dattolo, president and CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County, pointed to the fact that the number of construction projects in the county is enormous, not to mention the great need to maintain existing structures.

“Whenever anybody graduates from these programs, they automatically have a job before they graduate,” Dattolo said. “If you look at the top industries in Palm Beach County, you’ll see that construction and trades are in the top five.”

Palm Beach State offers various certificate and degree programs that lead to good-paying jobs in the local construction industry, filling the need for HVAC technicians, electricians, low voltage technicians and construction managers. With the funding from the Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grant and the Lowe’s Foundation, the College looks to grow its program offerings to include plumbing and carpentry, along with developing the new Construction Trades Center for Workforce Innovation on the Lake Worth campus, an interdisciplinary training space that will simulate construction job site conditionsproviding real-world experiences for students. The center will incorporate both residential and commercial construction sites—an innovative smart house and an office suite facility—and be equipped with all the tools and equipment needed to design, build and renovate.

Overall, this funding will support a total of 41 colleges, including 16 lead institutions and an additional 25 consortia members. These colleges will work in multiple sectors, including advanced manufacturing, healthcare, IT, and infrastructure-related sectors like construction, transportation, broadband expansion, and renewable energy.  Across the four rounds of grants to date, 170 colleges, including leads and consortia members, are addressing major workforce priorities for employers and workers in their 31 states and local communities.

Grantees announced this round will receive approximately $55 million in funding now. Following a feasibility study, a subset of grantees will be identified to participate in an evaluation study. Those grantees will share the remaining $10 million in funding, to be awarded this fall.

Palm Beach State College making strides in cyber; ranks in National Cyber League competition
U.S. Department of Labor awards Palm Beach State College a $1.75 million grant to expand skilled trades training