Bossier Parish Community College’s cyber program is making an impact on the local economy and workforce.

The Cyber Information Technology program began with five courses in the spring 2009 and now offers associate degrees and certificate programs in network security, network specialist, web design, programmer analyst and systems administration. Not only are the course offerings growing, but so are the enrollment numbers.

Dean of the Technology, Engineering and Math department Laura Goadrich and Instructor Eddie Horton have been with the program since the very beginning and are pleased with where it’s headed. Last year, the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security designated BPCC as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance.

A common misconception about the program, Horton said, is that it’s all related to the military.

“Network security stretches beyond the military into the business and healthcare industries,” he said. “The technology stays the same, but the application is different for each job.”

Goadrich said the goal is to not only help students earn the credentials needed to work, but to get them the experience they need to be successful on the job.

“Certifications are rising in demand,” she said. “With the economy the way it is, it’s definitely an advantage to have them.”

Course work puts students on track for several IT industry certifications, including CompTIA, Cisco, Adobe, Microsoft, Java and EC Council. The CompTIA Authorized Partner Program for Academy Partners offers a variety of programs designed to help academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, and government retraining agencies in enhancing the learning experience for students preparing for an IT career.

Horton said the perks to these certifications is that they are recognized nationally.

“Not everyone will stay in Bossier,” he said. “They have the opportunity to go wherever they want with nationally recognized certifications.”

The success doesn’t stop at BPCC though. Roughly two-thirds of program graduates enter four-year computer degree programs, often through the BPCC’s articulation agreements with Louisiana State University, Louisiana Tech University, Northwestern State University of Louisiana and University of Maryland University College.

“We are offering senior level courses at a community college,” Horton said. “We will continue to help our students achieve their best and support them as they transition into a four year university or the workforce.”

The Cyber Information Technology program has also built strong relationships with the local school district, Barksdale Air Force Base, and community organizations as well. As he program grows, so do the opportunities for the students enrolled in BPCC’s Cyber Information Technology program.

“Who knows what the future will be,” Horton said.