Industry leaders step up to fill cybersecurity roles through support of BSC program

 Jun 20 2018
Industry leaders step up to fill cybersecurity roles through support of BSC program
Thanks to generous donations from Great River Energy, Midco and National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) to the Bismarck State College (BSC) Foundation, BSC can now prepare more students to fill the predicted 1.8 million cybersecurity workforce gap.
 
Midco has donated $100,000, and both Great River Energy and NISC have donated $50,000 to BSC’s Cybersecurity and Computer Networks Program. These donations will help BSC provide the talent desperately needed in our nation’s hospitals, refineries, technology companies, power plants and more.

“Protecting our customers’ connections and data is paramount for Midco. Cyber threats continue to evolve. Our investment in [BSC] will help develop our best and brightest to stay ahead of that evolution and provide a more secure Internet for all of us,” says Jon Pederson, chief technology officer for Midco.

BSC is the higher education lead in North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum’s K-20W cyber initiative focused on “every student, every school, cyber educated.” In addition to hiring more faculty and ramping up the curriculum, in the fall of 2019, the college will implement a four-year Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Cybersecurity offered either on campus or fully online.

 “With BSC’s cybersecurity program, we believe that future generations will be able to protect and defend our networks and electric grid,” says John Bauer, director of North Dakota generation at Great River Energy. “BSC is proactive in understanding the industry needs. Cyber incidents on the nation’s grid and industrial control systems are increasing threats and this donation is a way to support training of our future work force.”

Due to the high demand for cybersecurity education, in 2016, BSC revamped its computer information system offerings and created a cybersecurity and computer networks program. Enrollment increased significantly.
 
In 2018, BSC’s budget was reduced due to North Dakota revenue shortfalls, making it hard for BSC to make the investments needed to grow this vital program. So BSC looked to area businesses for financial support. In particular, those businesses feeling a sense of urgency in this realm – both from a service and an employment perspective.
 
“NISC is not only committed to a culture of cyber security within our employee base, but we are committed to providing cyber security solutions to our Members that will help stabilize and secure their organizations,” says Vern Dosch, NISC president and chief executive officer. “As cyber threats continue to escalate, we understand our obligation to stay ahead of these risks and be a leader in the industry. BSC’s program will be a great feeder program to NISC as we build on our workforce to meet our growth. This program will turn out graduates with specialized knowledge that will be critical to our ongoing success and security. It’s always a good day when we can partner with local universities and colleges while investing in our future employees.”
 
In considering who to approach for support, BSC President Larry C. Skogen says he knew that Great River Energy, Midco and NISC all had the visionary mindset that makes them strong partners.
 
“The generosity shown by these three organizations will allow us to educate students who, in turn, will ensure that these industry leaders can safeguard their customers and their services from increasing cyber threats that are becoming common place in our world today,” says BSC President Larry C. Skogen.
 
For more information about Bismarck State College’s Cybersecurity and Computer Networks program visit bismarckstate.edu/cybercenter.