Bismarck State College has been looking for ways to diversify. To do so it has cultivated some partnerships as a way to expand course offerings and keep the costs down.
The latest effort is a partnership with a California-based company to offer a cybersecurity program. Palo Alto Networks, a cybersecurity firm, will help the school expand its cyber safety courses.
BSC plans to offer classes online and on campus using Palo Alto Networks curriculum. The school will add more networking equipment, create a "cyber range," or online training center, and open a cybersecurity academy that will train K-12 teachers on how to incorporate cybersecurity education into classrooms.
"With this partnership, we'll grow our program, increase our student base and not just reach Bismarck, but the region and hopefully the nation at some point," Matt Frohlich, an associate professor of computers and office technology at BSC, told reporter Blair Emerson.
There’s a demand for those trained in cybersecurity and the number of jobs is expected to increase. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates computer security jobs will increase 28 percent through 2026.
BSC hopes to use its Palo Alto partnership to train more women and other demographics. BSC President Larry Skogen said the program also fits Gov. Doug Burgum’s efforts to expand cyber education in K-12 schools and higher education.
What the Tribune Editorial Board likes about the program is that it trains students for jobs that are available and can provide long careers. Everyone who uses computers has become aware of security issues. It’s unlikely the challenges to security will go away.
Schools should focus on programs that provide students with a future. A degree shouldn’t be an end goal, but the beginning of a future in the workplace.
BSC continues to have talks to partner with a Saudi Arabia-based institute to provide energy sector training to Saudi youth. If an agreement is reached it could bring BSC several million dollars over the next five years.
BSC was chosen for a five-year contract to provide curriculum and training at the National Power Academy located in Dammam, the capital of Saudi Arabia’s eastern province.
While BSC would be training Saudi students, the money it receives for the program would be plowed back into BSC, benefiting the programs in Bismarck.
The efforts by Skogen and BSC to provide courses that lead to good jobs and find new sources of revenue should be applauded. The less reliance schools have on the state benefits taxpayers. Hopefully, both these programs will be successful.