Cybersecurity lab to prepare students for careers battling hackers

Computer hackers—the secretive, faceless criminals who steal, corrupt and disrupt data and infrastructure—are about to meet their match. The new tools and curriculum for Palm Beach State College’s cybersecurity programs will prepare students to become the cybersecurity professionals the state and nation need.

PBSC’s Cybersecurity Lab, the new command central for hands-on training, will have its grand opening on Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Center for Bachelor’s Programs building, 4200 Congress Ave. The event starts with a ribbon-cutting at 8:45 a.m. by PBSC President Ava L. Parker, followed at 9:15 a.m. by a panel discussion featuring guests from the Department of Homeland Security and National Security Agency. Lab tours will run every half hour from 10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. For more information about this free, public event, visit

Guest panelists will include:

  • Daniel Stein, program lead for the National Cybersecurity Education and Training Program within the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity Education and Awareness Branch
  • Lynne Clark, chief of the National Information Assurance Education and Training Program, which includes administration of the NSA/DHS Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education
  • Silver J. Mendez, executive vice president of ISSGlobal, an IT security solutions provider based in Boca Raton
  • Elvis Moreland, chief information security officer, Palm Beach State College

PBSC’s Cybersecurity Lab will allow students to engage in real-world simulations to strengthen their cyber defense skills. The lab’s cornerstone utility is the Ixia BreakingPoint Storm™, a state-of-the-art stress tester for networks, data centers and devices. Palm Beach State is one of only two higher education institutions in Florida to have the Ixia product, which is used by major corporations and government agencies to improve system security and train staff. With access to such equipment, PBSC students will gain a unique edge in this fast-growing field. According to Burning Glass Technologies, cybersecurity job postings grew 91 percent from 2010-2014, a rate three times faster than IT job postings overall.

The new Cybersecurity Lab is integral to Palm Beach State’s commitment to create a fully articulated, entry-level to advanced career pathway in cybersecurity using the $1.2 million in federal money awarded to the College in 2013. The funds are part of a $10.2 million U.S. Department of Labor TAACCCT grant made to a consortium of seven Florida colleges led by the College of Central Florida. The consortium’s initiative, Florida XCEL-IT: Information Technology Careers for Rural Areas, focuses on developing programs in manufacturing, logistics and supply chain management, and cybersecurity.

This fall, PBSC launches two new College Credit Certificate programs: a 15-credit Cisco CCNA Security program, which prepares students for entry-level positions in Cisco security, and a 21-credit Information Security program that develops key skills in network security. In addition, the Networking Administrator Associate in Science degree and Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Management, Security and Network Assurance degree have enhanced courses, ensuring alignment to industry certifications.

“The Cybersecurity Lab is a great example of a government, industry and higher education partnership,” says Don Gladney, associate dean of PBSC bachelor’s degree programs. “It will satisfy the needs of the community by producing graduates with real-world, hands-on experience.”

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