Cybersecurity rules at Doña Ana Community College

Recent advances in technology mean today’s college students can choose from vastly different career options compared to years ago. Even students pursuing more traditional fields, such as agriculture, are finding the landscape transformed by technology.

That’s why NMSU-Doña Ana Community College is committed to providing students with the tools they need to pursue high-tech careers and teaching them about new technology that’s become second nature to many.

The newest technological offering on the horizon at DACC is an associate degree in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is a growing field that works to protect sensitive digital data from online hackers. The field is expected to suffer a global shortage of professionals in the next few years, and DACC is stepping up to the challenge, growing students into qualified professionals to meet the demand for these high-paying jobs critical in today’s society.

The proposed degree is awaiting final approval from NMSU, and students could enroll as early as fall 2018.

“Everything is getting hacked, and there is a heavy need for people who can do cybersecurity,” says Robert Doyle, an instructor in Computer and Information Technology at DACC.

He says he has already received inquiries about the new degree, especially from students who currently hold an associate degree in computer technology. 

Yet, cybersecurity isn’t the only high-tech field DACC is creating to help fill jobs.

Students interested in developing apps for Apple’s app store can take classes in Apple Swift Xcode, the newest programming language from Apple. Swift is easy to learn, provides excellent security and performance and is used by app developers at all skill levels. According to PayScale Human Capital, the average salary for a mobile app developer is $71,861. 

Those taking the Swift coding class at DACC can create apps that speak to the limits of their imagination, whether that be an app to find the best place to eat in Las Cruces or an app to help people organize their lives.

While DACC is offering students these new pathways to high-tech careers, the school also is bringing technology into traditional classroom settings with the XCITE initiative, an effort that incorporates iPads into learning experiences across a broad range of courses. So far, 26 faculty members are teaching classes using iPads, including Science Professor Sarah Balizan, the first Apple Distinguished Educator from a New Mexico college.

“I’m pleased with the ability of students to follow along on their iPads during a class lecture and discussion,” Balizan says. “Giving them access to course content lets them immediately take notes, highlight, record my voice and then review their notes at a later time.” 

Erica Johnson

Computer and Information Technology Professors Robert Doyle (left) and Gus Pina (right) guide student Gloria Nevarez Leslie in a technology program new to DACC that equips her with the skills needed for cybersecurity careers.