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Pathway Focus of the Month: Computer Information Systems

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Potential Career: Computer Forensics (a.k.a., Computer Security Specialist)

According to a study from research firm IDC released this week, a pocket of growth has emerged for security specialists. Their expertise is in demand, thanks to a boom in malicious attacks on computer systems by hackers and viruses and an array of new communications technologies -- from instant messaging to voice-over-Internet protocol -- that carry new security risks. At the same time, new government regulations requiring better data security have caught the attention of executives and given security new prominence in corporate boardrooms.” (Riva Richmond Dow Jones Newswires from Wall Street Journal)

In some organizations, computer security specialists may plan, coordinate, and implement the organization’s information security. These workers educate users about computer security, install security software, monitor networks for security breaches, respond to cyber attacks, and in some cases, gather data and evidence to be used in prosecuting cyber crime. The responsibilities of computer security specialists have increased in recent years as cyber attacks have become more common. This and other growing specialty occupations reflect an increasing emphasis on client-server applications, the expansion of Internet and intranet applications, and the demand for more end-user support. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008-2009)

Job Outlook: Information Technology (IT) is the fastest growing sector in the economy with a 68% increase in output growth rate projected between 2002 and 2012. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) 92% of all IT workers are in non-IT companies, 80% of which are in small companies. (Information Technology Association of America) The MASS CIS website provides the following employment outlook for computer security specialist:

      Annual
openings
 
Location Employment Growth This
occupation
All
occupations
Annual
openings
Massachusetts 9,390 Large 20.8% 6.3% 410
Very High
United States 309,201 Large 27.0% 10.4% 15,391
Very High

 

For More Information: Since this is a relatively new field, there are more websites that advertise services than inform about the field. The most comprehensive site for information is the Mass CIS website. Although not substantial, this basic site has good information on computer forensics and is a resource for practitioners: Computer Forensics World. About.com provides some good basic information that also covers training and job searches. The two related associations I found, the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists and the Forensic Association of Computer Technologists, may be useful websites in the future when they start to provide more information for those looking to enter the field.

About BCC’s Programming: The CIS Department developed a curriculum in computer forensics with funding from the National Science Foundation that began in Fall 2008. The Computer Science program at BCC and UMass Dartmouth is Java based. Students will start out with immediate immersion into the object-oriented Java language. Because of the intensity of this program, we have developed an object-oriented logic course for Computer Science majors to take in conjunction with the first Java course which will be offered in Fall 2009.

Hint for Success: Computer science specialists are more marketable and successful if they have a broader range of knowledge. Primarily, one would need great computer skills (in both hardware and software), strong programming skills, a good understanding of math, and great problem solving skills. It would also be helpful to learn about engineering and technology, law, media technology, and technology design.


Headlines

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Summer Jobs for Youth!

Several different funding streams, including the Economic Stimulus Bill (aka, the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” or “ARRA”), are providing an unprecedented number of youth employment opportunities this summer. All programs focus on low income, at-risk youth. YouthWorks, the State’s summer youth employment program, focuses on at-risk students, ages 14 — 21, and eligible for free or reduced lunch. The program will prioritize youth who have dropped out of high school, are on IEP’s or in alternative school programming. The ARRA funding is providing employment through the existing Workforce Investment Act program for Out-of-School Youth. These “youth” must be living at or below the MA poverty line, be between the ages of 18 and 24 and have an additional at-risk factor. Because all of these programs are going through the local Workforce Investment Boards, specific eligibility requirements, prioritized youth and program timelines will differ according to local priorities. All youth will need to apply through their local Career Center (click here for a list of locations) and will need to provide documentation of income, citizenship, high school working papers (if appropriate), in addition to other locally-required documentation. Deadline for youth applications vary but are all fast approaching. Remember, schools can also benefit by requesting to be worksites. For more information and local contact information, see the Commonwealth Corporation’s website. You can also contact Chris Shannon.

Research Finds the Cost of MA Special Education in Massachusetts Isn’t Paying Off As Hoped. A three-month investigation by MassINC’s CommonWealth magazine found what few in 2000 anticipated: The number of special education students, after dropping sharply in 2001, rebounded to near its previous level even as overall school enrollment was shrinking. Special education children, as a group, are falling further behind their regular education peers every year, and an achievement gap of large proportions has opened between special education students in wealthy and in poor communities. The article also found that there is little evidence the state’s nearly $2 billion investment in special education is paying off as hoped. According to federal data from 2000, Massachusetts ranked fifth nationally in graduating special education students and had one of the lowest dropout rates in the country. The most recent federal data, in part reflecting the advent of MCAS as a graduation requirement in 2003, show Massachusetts ranking 32nd in graduating special education students, and its dropout rate for those students is the sixth worst in the nation. To read the entire article, visit MassINC’s CommonWealth magazine. You will need to register but it is free to do so.

College Counselors for All. The April; 16th, 2008 edition of online publication, Inside Higher EdI, published an interesting article concerning Virginia’s successful strategy to ensure a smoother secondary-postsecondary transition for their Tech Prep students. An excerpt follows: “Students who need the most help planning for either college or a career after high school often do not receive it. Virginia Community College System officials, however, believe they have found a way to assist these students, who are sometimes overlooked by their guidance counselors in favor of their gifted or at-risk peers. Their method? Meet these students where they are, right in the halls of their high schools.

For four years, the system has employed “career coaches” who are based onsite at a number of the state’s public high schools. In 2005, the program had 11 coaches in 13 schools. Now there are about 110 coaches in more than 140 schools, serving about 40 percent of the state’s secondary students. Free from having to resolve the scheduling conflicts and disciplinary issues that dominate the professional lives of many high school counselors, the coaches operate differently from the guidance counselors, with whom they work. Sometimes, they will help students and parents figure out the financial aid system, or give pointers on how to strengthen a résumé. At other times, she added that they will host career fairs and even offer college placement testing at their high school.

Even though the coaches work for the community college system, they are not simply advocates promoting their two-year institutions. They make sure students are aware of the wide array of postsecondary options they have, from career and technical credentialing to the state's four-year institutions. Elizabeth Whiston-Dean, a career coach at Pulaski County Senior High School who works for New River Community College, said she was afraid, going into her position last year, that she would simply be seen as a promoter for her two-year institution.

“I tell students up front that I don’t work for the high school and that I work for the community college,” said Whiston-Dean, a former high school guidance counselor herself. “I don’t work on commission. I do my job based on what’s best for the student. I’m here to reach students who didn’t think they were college material find their way. This is really a significant service from the community college with no strings attached no matter the student’s choice.”


Professional Development Opportunities

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Professional Opportunities

Plymouth Rock Studio Presentation: a Regional Workforce and Training Conversation, Wednesday, June 10th, 2009, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm. This informative and interactive event will provide basic industry and employment information, centering on the construction and implementation of the new Plymouth Rock Studios. After an informative presentation, representatives form five Tech Prep regions will sit down to have more localized discussion concerning local talent, potential training gaps, cross-industry employment opportunities, and new opportunities for collaborations. Each region will invite representatives from K-12, postsecondary, workforce development, economic development, unions, and interested private industry leaders to help inform an effective regional discussion. Tech Prep Consortia invited include: Bristol, Bunker Hill, Cape Cod, Mass Bay and Massasoit. To register, contact your local Tech Prep representative. Contact Bristol Tech Prep Consortium Director, Chris Shannon (508) 678-2811, x2339 regarding event details.

Summer Externship Application Deadline is Extended. It’s not too late to submit an application for the BCC Tech Prep Summer Externships. These are PAID opportunities that allow education professionals an opportunity to learn more about an industry from the inside and to develop educational resources for more effective high school programming. Please see the application for more details. Applications will be accepted until Tuesday, May 5th, 2009. Contact the Tech Prep Office if you have any questions.


Student Opportunities

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Student Opportunities

Earth Island Institute Invites Applications for Brower Youth Awards. Earth Island Institute is accepting applications from young people ages 13 to 22 that live in North America for its Brower Youth Awards. The awards are designed to recognize youth for their outstanding activism and achievements in the fields of environmental and social justice advocacy. Approximately six awardees will receive a $3,000 cash prize, a trip to California for the award ceremony and a wilderness camping trip, and ongoing access to resources and opportunities to further their work at the Earth Island Institute. To obtain additional information and application, visit: Brower Youth Awards. Deadline: May 15, 2009.

Slots are still available for the SMART Start Summer Program. This opportunity is open to any student matriculating to BCC in Fall 2009 who is interested in an Engineering related career. Participants will take three summer courses, participate in hands-on workshops and receive individualized college and career counseling—all for FREE! See the application and flyer for more information. The program contact is Meghan Abella-Bowen at 508-678-2811, x2576. Hurry before the slots fill up!

A+ Certification Summer Start. This Tech Prep initiative targets at-risk BMC Durfee CVTE Juniors (Class of 2010) interested in computers who do not currently plan on any postsecondary education. Students will take two of the three courses required for A+ Certification, an industry-recognized credential. Those who successfully complete the two summer courses will then be eligible to take the final course in Fall 2009. Although this program targets BMC Durfee students, Tech Prep students from other Consortium schools are eligible if space is available. A flyer and application will be available at the May 13th,  2009 Bristol Tech Prep Consortium Implementation Meeting. Applications will also be available through the Tech Prep Office.

Coming Soon--Accuplacer Success Summer Program. Tech Prep Juniors and graduating Seniors can take advantage of a free program that will help them achieve high enough scores on the college placement testing to eliminate the need to pay for and take college developmental classes. Developmental courses in Math and English help students gain the math and communication skills they will need to access college curricula. Over 80% of community college students, on average, test into these courses, which require additional time and money and do not count towards a degree or certificate program. The Accuplacer Success Summer Program could save students significant time and money. A Program Informational Flyer and Application will be available soon.


Articulation Update

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Articulation Update

As we approach the final weeks of the Academic Year, it is important that we receive any information for review for renewing and developing new articulation agreements. As I noted last month, this is especially important as we comply with new DESE requirements to update all agreements annually. We will need all high school program curricula year by June 30, 2009, if you wish to be considered for articulation agreements next school year.

As BCC department articulation requirements can vary, we are arranging individual meetings with faculty in May during the “May Articulation Days,” starting May 18th, 2009. Please let Kathy Bjorge know as soon as possible if you need to meet with BCC faculty and the best dates and times for scheduling individual meetings. There is a small window for faculty meetings as their Spring semester is over by May 18th.

The Tech Prep website restructuring is moving forward and will be completed prior to the end of summer. We are still looking for your input—contact the Tech Prep Office if there are any resources, program information, or website formatting tips you would like us to consider. Our goal is to create a valuable and informative resource for all Tech Prep students, parents, site coordinators, administrators and educators.