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DSU Cyber Academy approved with Southern Hills school consortium

March 30, 2021

Agreements also approved with technical, community colleges

Businesses across the country are reporting the need for employees with cybersecurity skills.

An estimated 40,000 information security analyst jobs go unfilled, and employers are struggling to fill 200,000 other cybersecurity related roles. Also, the Enterprise Strategy Group estimated that 51% of organizations report having a significant shortage of cybersecurity skills in 2018, up from 45% in 2017.

High school students could help fill this need but may not be sure what is involved with a career in a cyber. Dakota State University has established a new partnership with several K-12 schools in the southern Black Hills to help students explore the possibilities in these fields.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents on March 30, will allow for dual-credit cyber classes to be offered beginning this fall in Hot Springs, Oelrichs, Custer, and Hill City, pending approval by the individual school districts. These schools make up the Southern Hills Education Consortium (SHEC). Similar MOUs are currently in place between DSU and the Sioux Falls and Madison School Districts.

Through the MOU with SHEC, the Cyber Leadership and Intelligence pilot project (CLIPP), will offer university level computer/cyber science courses to qualified high school students, giving them a look at the fastest growing vocational market in the U.S.

“The Southern Hills Education Consortium represents a fantastic opportunity for students to explore and engage in cutting edge degrees and earn college credit while still in high school,” said Dr. Pat Engebretson, dean of The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences. “I cannot think of a better way to excite students, encourage their participation in these much-needed degrees, and grow our state, regional, and national impact.” 

Courses will be offered through a variety of delivery options (online, blended, on the DSU campus). Juniors and seniors in SHEC will have the opportunity to take up to 21 credits in Cyber Leadership and Intelligence, Computer Science, and Computer Information Systems. CLIPP courses will be offered between Fall 2021 and spring 2024; a study of the efficacy of delivery, content, and outcomes will be designed and enacted by the university.

Outreach such as this is the responsibility of higher education institutions to adapt to the changing workforce world, said DSU’s documentation to the BOR. Collaboration and partnerships are ways for institutions to stay relevant with 21st century skills, and find new expressions of work, workforce training and economic development.

A second collaboration through articulation agreements with several technical and community colleges was approved by the BOR on March 30. This allows students at these schools to transfer their associate degree credits to DSU bachelor’s degree programs in health information, and in business. The schools include: Indian Hills Community College, Minnesota State Community and Technical College, Mitchell Technical College, North Dakota State College of Science, Northeast Iowa Community College, Scott Community College, Southeast Technical College, and Western Nebraska Community College.

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