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Bolander Awarded Scholarships for Specialized Cybersecurity Certification Training

Kyle Bolander

Three Ferris State University students are among 100 finalists in the U.S. Cyber FastTrack competition who have been awarded $22,000 scholarships to attend the SANS Technology Institute, as part of an accredited college program called Applied Cybersecurity.

“I had free time to put toward qualifying for this competition during the summer, and I am looking forward to continuing this learning when that is possible this December,” Bolander said. “Although I imagine I will be quite busy while earning my certifications from the GIAC, I am sure that they will add significant value to my education.”

U.S. Cyber FastTrack is an innovative nationwide competition that provides high-aptitude students with practical cybersecurity training that employers demand. In the six months since the 2019 competition began in April, the finalists outperformed more than 13,000 other candidates. Across the nation, program finalists represent 63 colleges in 28 states.

Ferris’ Center of Cyber Security and Data Science recently learned that it is included in the charter class of Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, for schools offering cybersecurity instruction.

Alan Paller, the President of the SANS Technology Institute, said they are pleased to support the skill development of the students in this year’s competition.

“Cybersecurity is a fast-growing field where the demand for skilled workers surpasses the current supply,” Paller said. “These winners will set a new, high bar for candidates for entry-level positions and demonstrate to employers that Cyber FastTrack graduates are among the best prepared and most effective new cybersecurity employees they have ever hired.”

The scholarship recipients are expected to complete three advanced immersion courses in the SANS Applied Cybersecurity Program, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Students must also earn the professional GIAC certifications associated with each course, which employers recognize as validation of their skill set. Upon completion of the program, students will have engagement opportunities with select cyber employers for internships and employment.

The aim of SANS Applied Cybersecurity is to prepare students with the knowledge, tools, and techniques needed to launch a rewarding career in cybersecurity. The program is designed to produce graduates who (1) are among the top 1 percent of all students in the United States in reliably measured cybersecurity aptitude, (2) embody a high level of tenacity, curiosity, and rapid learning capabilities, and (3) have fully mastered the skills critical to success as cybersecurity professionals, ranging from networking to operating systems and programming.

Most finalists in the 2019 competition are in their third and fourth years of an undergraduate degree program or pursuing graduate degrees. Students come from a variety of backgrounds and experience levels and range in age from 18 to 63. A quarter of the finalists are women, and one-eighth are minorities.

Paller said SANS aims to make the Cyber FastTrack competition available to all students in four-year and community colleges in the United States. “If these finalists are as successful as we expect them to be,” he said, “we will be on our way towards our goal to close the nation’s cybersecurity skills gap in the next 48 months.”

Registration for the next Cyber FastTrack competition opens in March 2020.