Cybersecurity program is preparing students for the future


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The computer information systems program (CIS) at College of the Desert is providing students with instruction and hands-on opportunities to succeed in the cybersecurity field.

Felix Marhuenda, professor of computer information systems (CIS), says College of the Desert’s computer program developed over the past six years, evolving into an accessible resource to students and the local community.

Since connecting with Cal State University San Bernadino’s faculty, Marhuenda brought forth courses emulating CSUSB’s lower division for their IST program, setting students up for a successful transfer. In addition, there are courses aligned with industry certifications such as CompTIA, Cisco, Amazon Web Services, and Ethical Hacking. Students have options to choose from, whether an associate to transfer or an associate for employment, while also gaining experience through apprenticeships and work experience. 

CIS students offer free computer repair and support services to everyone through the Cyber Geek program. With the help of state funds, Cyber Geeks is a paid work program, adding to the valuable technical and interpersonal skills CIS students will experience. Marhuenda emphasizes since the transition into online learning, it is important for students to have a support system to ensure equal access to education. 

COD on the Road is another program offering free seven-week-long summer sessions to the valley’s youth, ranging from elementary to high school. The program travels to students in Palm Desert, Indio, Palm Springs, Coachella and Thermal. Marhuenda says it supplies underrepresented communities access to education by taking the initiative to reach out to students and prepare them for their future.

“Show them they’re not only consumers of technology but producers and see themselves as developers and creators of content,”. Marhuenda adds on the importance of consistency within the communities as proper intervention is crucial at the middle school level to form a supportive structure through high school and college. The CIS program also partners with CVUSD and DSUSD, offering dual enrollment for students to get ahead in receiving college credits. 

Along with partaking in the CIS program, CIS students can participate in competitions with the cybersecurity student club, CODIS. Capture The Flag (CTF) is one event the club has repetitively competed in. This semester CIS has a larger group, including an All-Women’s CTF team. Marhuenda explains that most CIS students are men and that the industry reflects that, although the program is trying to recruit more women.  

CIS is a career pathway that actively helps students explore the cyber world, giving them options on how they want to navigate their education. The CIS program considers the youth and community, contributing to the opportunities and help available. Programs at College of the Desert continue to grow and make an effort to provide quality education to its students beyond its campuses. The college has students and instructors, like Marhuenda, who always give their best to the school and to all.