In the award letter from the National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance, Bossier Parish Community College’s strengths were noted.

“Bossier Parish has strong outreach to the community and first responders. Wide technology, good labs and good opportunities.”

That’s how the campus became one of a dozen two-year colleges nationwide to be named a center of academic excellence for its efforts in information security.

The designation makes more sense when Chris Rondeau, program director of security with BPCC’s Division of Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, names the two federal agencies who bestowed the honor.

“The NSA and the Department of Homeland Security,” he said. “They partnered to create this standard.”

The designation boils down to a certificate that adds credentials to those working in cyber security. This is helpful for those working in or with the military or at a place like the Cyber Innovation Center.

To earn this was a two-year process that made program organizers tweak their existing curriculum to adhere to federal standards. The process started with 300 objectives that had to be covered in the program, Rondeau said. Each objective had to be tied to classes or books.

“At this point, the curriculum was already done, it just got beefed up,” he said.

Those 300 objectives allowed the program to be certified for levels 4011 and 4012. After the program was approved for those levels, the group went for the next two, which meant more objectives, more tweaking and back to the drawing board.

“Luckily, the department has six faculty members, so each could concentrate on their own course,” said Laura Goadrich, dean of technology, engineering and mathematics division.

Rondeau agreed, “In some cases, it enhanced classes taught.”

The next step is to work on the next levels and turn in the paperwork by August before reaching other levels. Keeping and expanding the certification will be a constant endeavor as everyday items encompass technology, Rondeau said.

“Security doesn’t sit still,” he said. “For example, if you’re in a GM car, it runs on OnStar. What if they hack your car? If they get into OnStar, they can control your car.”

Chancellor Jim Henderson said that having a skilled work force in this relatively new area is essential. That’s why it was important to earn the federal designation.

“This is the highest demand program — engineering, technology, and broader fields—and this makes us competitive in this field.”