Ivy Tech Cyber Academy partners with Cummins for job shadowing

As part of the enrichment activities, leaders of the Ivy Tech Cyber Academy wanted to offer job shadowing opportunities for students.

Through the 11-month program, based at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, a student can earn an Associate of Applied Science in cybersecurity and then move on to a high-paying, in-demand job.

Who better to reach out to than one of the largest companies in the world that’s right here in Seymour and Columbus?

That was Kristina Samples’ thinking in contacting Andrew Lamm, director of global information protection for Cummins Inc.

“They agreed to host us for two four-hour job shadowing activities here at the Columbus location to give the students some real-life experience, real-life advice on what it’s like working in cybersecurity,” Samples said.

Lamm said when Samples reached out, he definitely wanted to take the opportunity because the students could be the company’s future employees.

“Cyber is a small group. It’s high demand, and there are not a lot of people going into that field,” Lamm said. “So if we can generate that interest and keep them motivated, all the better. And in effect, they come to work for Cummins, that’s always good, too.”

The first session at the end of October was all about identity and access management and governance risk and compliance. Cummins employees working in those areas spoke to the Ivy Tech students about their job and responsibilities.

The second session a week later focused on operations and information protection.

Both sessions allowed students to learn about technology Cummins uses to address actions in cybersecurity and the scope and depth of how big it is and how important it is, said Joseph Bodden, assistant program chair of the Cyber Academy.

“For a college student, that is a tremendous opportunity because if you think about it, we sit in a classroom every day and we talk about all of these things, but to hear it from someone who does it day to day, it breathes life into it because it’s now not theoretical anymore,” he said. “It’s now digestible from real time.”

Listening to the Cummins employees and being able to ask them questions, Lamm said the students were able to see all of the options that are out there for them.

“Today, threat protections, how we respond to threats, it’s so much more than that,” he said. “It’s documentation. It’s collecting the requirements. How do you design a new application or integrate a new tool to solve that problem? We’ve got to stay on top of it. Just like industry changes, technology changes. If we’re not ready for it, then we’ve got a gap.”

A few of the employees were relatable to the students because they had graduated from the Ivy Tech program.

After several years of planning, the Cyber Academy had its first cohort in 2018 with 38 students. When the third cohort graduated in 2021, the program topped 100 total graduates.

Ivy Tech officials say the Cyber Academy is the only place on the globe that offers an accelerated degree program in the cybersecurity field. Not only in 11 months are they coming out with a degree, they also get three industry certifications that allow them to be ready to enter the workforce.

The program has drawn students of a variety of ages from Jackson, Jennings and other Indiana counties and even from other states.

“We’re the most affordable in the state,” Samples said. “This is the best educational investment — $8,000 for tuition and we’re having 19-year-olds graduate making between $60,000 and $65,000.”

Bodden said he hasn’t been able to find another cybersecurity program that delivers that much in that short period of a time, and Lamm said cybersecurity is a career path that doesn’t require a master’s or doctorate degree.

“You finish this and you’re going to hit the ground running, and that’s an advantage to companies like us to be able to pick them up,” Lamm said.

Jacob Pullen is among the current Cyber Academy cohort. He graduated from Brownstown Central High School in 2017 and then studied mechanical engineering for a year before deciding it wasn’t for him.

He took some time to work and find out what he wanted to do, and he recalled a BCHS history teacher telling him about the Cyber Academy.

“I was like, ‘Nah, naw, whatever,’” he said. “That was crazy for me to think that way because now, I see it and it’s like, ‘Whoa!’”

Since starting the Ivy Tech program in August, Pullen said he has learned a lot.

“I love technology. I’ve worked with technology my whole life. I’ve been building computers for a long time,” he said. “Pretty much every single class we’ve talked about is very interesting. They do their best to make it interesting. They don’t want it to be boring. If it’s boring, people won’t listen. I’ve learned more in the past few months than I have in the past probably 10 years.”

Taking it a step further by getting an opportunity to hear from Cummins employees was a plus for Pullen.

“There’s only so much you can do in a classroom,” he said. “Joe does his absolute best, and he does a great job, but he doesn’t own a cybersecurity program, he doesn’t own this company. He does show us real-world applications, but obviously, in person in an actual industry, he doesn’t have that. He does have a ton of experience, though.”

The job shadowing sessions gave him a better idea of what he wants to pursue after earning his degree.

“I’ve thought about Cummins pretty hardcore over the past week,” he said during a break in the second session earlier this month. “I’m still looking around. I still have a couple of months until I need to actually make my mind up.”

That statement stood out to Bodden. While traditional college students have a couple of years to make a decision of what they want to do in life, those in the Cyber Academy may have a couple of months to figure it out.

Pullen said he highly recommends the program to others.

“If you don’t know what you’re going to do in life, spend the $8,000 to do this,” he said. “It will pay off immediately. If you get a job in this field, it’ll pay it back, and you know what? It’s a year of your life and you get to use it to find out what you want to do.”

Learn more 

For information about the Ivy Tech Cyber Academy at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, contact Coordinator Kristina Samples at 812-374-5354 or [email protected]