January 18, 2024

Nashua Community College and Nashua School District team up for new opportunity

High school students can take Cybersecurity courses at Nashua High School South that earn both high school and college credit through the Early College program at Nashua Community College.   

“Because job growth in the cybersecurity field is burgeoning, the timing of this opportunity could not be better,” said Mario Andrade, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools for the Nashua School District. “We are grateful for the partnership with NCC because this is a great opportunity for our students to accelerate acquisition of highly marketable skills and credentials in the field. Our students are up to meeting the demand for cybersecurity specialists.”

Supported by a company called Paradigm, Nashua High School students can participate in a 3-year cybersecurity pathway that can lead right into the Cybersecurity Networking associate degree at Nashua Community College.

“Paradigm provides the curriculum, and the second-year lines up with Nashua Community College,” said Diane Fallier, Professor and Computer Networking/Cybersecurity Program Coordinator at NCC.

Professor Fallier said there had already been a lot of interest in the Computer Networking courses available at the high school, and the high schools wished to expand the pathway to include Cybersecurity, “The interest has been immense from the high school students. This is the first cybersecurity program in the area for high school students.”

Graduates with a 2-year associate degree in Cybersecurity qualify for entry-level careers in the industry, she said. From there, graduates can choose to continue toward a bachelor’s degree supported by their employer.

“You can get a job, and let them help you pay for tuition,” said Fallier, noting that BAE is a major source of local jobs for students in cybersecurity.

“The first year is introduction to all of cybersecurity, the second year teaches the Security+ exam, which is the equivalent of the NCC course, the Fundamentals of Cybersecurity (CSCM150), so that’s going to be an Early College class.”

Early College at Your High School,” formerly known as Running Start, means the course is taught at the high school and is eligible for both high school and college credit.

“The third year is exploratory; the students choose a portion of cybersecurity they would like to explore. It gives them a chance to really check out careers and what types of things people do in those careers,” said Professor Fallier.  

Nashua High School South began offering the first year of the 3-year pathway this fall, and classes go through the whole academic year. “So, they teach in a year what we teach in a semester,” she said. 

Students who complete the pathway can expect to save on their college degree if they continue studying Cybersecurity. “If they go straight from high school to NCC, and if they’ve taken the ‘Introduction to Networking’ class and the second year of the cybersecurity pathway; they will have 6 college credits applicable to the program before they arrive, so it gives them a head start at a much lower price.”

While Early College courses are available at a reduced tuition cost, students can also take two courses free each academic year with the Governor’s Scholarship.

“Not only has Nashua Community College and the Nashua School District collaborated to provide this opportunity for high school students, but NCC and Nashua City Schools have also blazed a new trail by forming a joint advisory board to strengthen and guide the cybersecurity pathway,” said Lucille Jordan, President of Nashua Community College.

“There’s room for this to keep expanding,” said Fallier, “As they restructure the courses, it may become possible for them to get credit for ‘Computer Architecture and Operating Systems’ (CSCM101). They have been teaching that material, but it’s not yet an Early College course. But when they separate the ‘networking’ and ‘computer architecture’ portions, we’ll talk about making that an Early College class.”  

Right now, the Cybersecurity Pathway is taught through the Nashua Technology Center at Nashua High School South. “But they are in talks with Nashua North to start to run the cybersecurity there because there’s enough demand to run it at both schools,” said Fallier. Currently, North students can also sign up for a class at South.

About Cybersecurity Networking at NCC

Students in the Cybersecurity Networking associate degree program at Nashua Community College learn the basics of securing computers and computer networks. Students gain experience in basic forensic analysis and penetration testing.

NCC has a networking lab with Cisco routers and switches for student use. Student teams work on their own pod of networking equipment for practical hands-on experience. NCC is part of the Cisco Networking Academy program which provides access to Cisco’s world-class networking classes. Faculty teaching the cybersecurity classes have many years of experience in the field.

For more information on Cybersecurity Networking at NCC, visit the program page, contact the admissions team at 603.578.8908 or [email protected], or come by the next Open House on March 6 from 5-7 PM to meet faculty and tour the facility.