locking it down
Houston students place high in national cyber security competition
A team from Houston Community College had a strong showing earlier this month at the spring National Cyber League competition.
A team of HCC students placed in the top 10 percent of finishers, according to a statement from the college. More than 7,800 students from 450 universities and colleges across the U.S.competed in the semi-annual competition that tests participants’ skills in identifying hackers from forensic data, penetration testing, auditing vulnerable websites and recovering from ransomware attacks through a series of games.
“Our goal is to empower our students with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed as leaders in information technology, including the fast growing and in-demand areas of cyber security and artificial intelligence,” Dr. Madeline Burillo-Hopkins, president of HCC Southwest College and vice chancellor of workforce, says in a statement. “Again and again, we find that our students perform exceptionally well when compared to those from colleges and universities across the nation.”
Hira Ali, a participant and mother of two who served as vice president of the HCC Cyber Security Club before graduating this year, says the experience pushed her and her teammates to expand their knowledge outside of the classroom.
“It was a great experience for us,” she says in a statement. “It presented us, as teammates, with the opportunity to venture beyond our comfort zones and delve into unfamiliar concepts."
Ali added that she ate almost nothing and slept little for a week because she and her team were "totally immersed in the competition.” She plans to enroll in a four-year online degree program through Dakota State University.
According to Samir Saber, dean of HCC’s Digital, and Information Technology Center of Excellence, there are about 57,878 cyber jobs in Texas alone. HCC also shared that the median salary for security analysts in the Houston area is about $101,000, according to Lightcast, a labor market data analysis firm.
Earlier this month, HCC also announced that it would be rolling out a new innovation 60-hour degree program in the fall. The Smart Building Technology program will train students on the installation of low-voltage controls. Students will receive an Associate of Applied Science degree after completing the program, which is part of HCC Central’s Electrical Technology program in the Architectural Design and Construction Center of Excellence (COE).
In late 2022, HCC and partners also received a $1.8 million grant from JP Morgan Chase to launch a new certificate program to help residents who come from some of Houston’s most underserved and under-resourced neighborhoods find career opportunities in the clean energy, disaster response, utilities, trades and manufacturing fields. Partnering employers included The City of Houston, Harris County and TRIO Electric.