Casper Community Celebrates Cybersecurity Apprenticeship

Featured Image Above: Casper Mayor Ray Pacheco explaining why signing the cybersecurity apprenticeship proclamation is important to him.  Right:  Chris Bonatti of IECA, Devin Cassity of Hilltop Bank, and Steven Schnell of the Science Zone.

CASPER – Representatives of local and state government, businesses, banks, nonprofits, tech firms, and educational institutions recently attended a community proclamation signing marking the 85th Anniversary of the National Apprenticeship Act and observation of National Apprenticeship Week Nov. 14-20.

The proclamation signing on Nov. 15, entitled Proclamation, Pizza, and Play, was designed to display the Casper community’s support for apprenticeship in the cybersecurity industry. Sixty-four people were in attendance in the event hosted by the Science Zone, a popular children’s museum. 

The event was organized by CyberWyoming and the Science Zone.  CyberWyoming is a nonprofit dedicated to workforce and business education, awareness and outreach in enhancing cybersecurity in the state. CyberWyoming is the first organization in the region to sponsor a registered cybersecurity apprenticeship program through the U.S. Department of Labor. Food was donated by the Cybersecurity Youth Apprenticeship Initiative and provided by Old Chicago.  Games were provided by the Science Zone and the University of Texas San Antonio’s Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (UTSA-CIAS).

“It was incredible seeing such great support and engagement for something so vitally important to us all,” said Steven Schnell, Executive Director of the Science Zone.

Steven Schnell, Executive DIrector of the Science Zone in Casper, welcoming the cybersecurity apprenticeship proclamation signers and community to the event.

Proclamation signers included: CyberWyoming and its board members in attendance, the Science Zone, CMIT Solutions, Team Networks, IECA, Digeteks LLC, Computer Professionals Unlimited (CPU) IT, Code Ninjas of Casper, Mountain West Technologies, Wyoming Association for CTE, Skills USA Wyoming, Advance Casper, Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, Banner Health/Wyoming Medical Center, Casper Police Department, HUB International, Flowstate, Jonah Bank, Hilltop National Bank, City of Casper Mayor Ray Pacheco, House District 58 Representative Pat Sweeney, and Casper.

Community cybersecurity proclamation signing from left to right:  Luke Carlson of Jonah Bank, Christy Walker CyberWyoming Board Director, Roberta Hedges of Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, Matthew Kadlick of Mountain West Technologies, Jesse Larson of Team Networks, Morryah McCurdy of Advance Casper, Dr. Gregory White of UTSA-CIAS, Steve Hendrickson of CMIT Solutions, Tony Schebler of HUB International, and Ryan Artz of Banner Health/Wyoming Medical Center.

Proclamation signers Rob Hill of Wyoming Association for CTE and SkillsUSA Wyoming, Dr. Darren Divine of Casper College and House District 58 Representative Pat Sweeney.

Community cybersecurity proclamation signing from left to right:  Matthew Kadlick of Mountain West Technologies, Luke Carlson of Jonah Bank, Casper Mayor Ray Pacheco, Jesse Larson of Team Networks, Morryah McCurdy of Advance Casper, Dr. Gregory White of UTSA-CIAS, Kyle Gamroth of Computer Professionals Unlimited, Steve Hendrickson of CMIT Solutions, Tony Schebler of HUB International, and Ryan Artz of Banner Health/Wyoming Medical Center.

After the proclamation signing, attendees stayed for pizza and to play with either the Science Zone’s coding activities or children’s exhibits or to play the Cyber Threat Defender card game, whose game creator and proclamation signer Dr. Gregory White from the UTSA-CIAS, discussed the concept of the game to teach cybersecurity attack and defense principles.  The game proved to be popular as participants remained past the event close to play.

“It’s a fun card game that illustrates real world cyber threats and defenses.  It’s geared towards kids but easily entertains adults and helps all players to understand cybersecurity concepts,” said Christy Walker, CyberWyoming Board Director, proclamation signer, and winner of her table’s Cyber Threat Defender game.

Dr. Gregory White, Director of the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security at the University of Texas San Antonio, teaching the Code Ninjas of Casper to play the Cyber Threat Defender game at the Science Zone on Nov. 14 during the Pizza, Proclamation and Play event.

Casper’s support of cybersecurity apprenticeship runs deep.  In 2020-2021, a volunteer committee called the Casper Cybersecurity Consortium including Casper College, Wyoming Medical Center/Banner Health, Kelly Walsh High School, the Wyoming Association for CTE, the Cybersecurity Youth Apprenticeship Initiative, Advance Casper, the Casper Chamber of Commerce, Wyoming’s Department of Workforce Services, and CyberWyoming created pre-apprenticeship standards mapped to CyberWyoming’s regionally recognized cybersecurity apprenticeship program.  Events like Kelly Walsh High School’s Cyber Patriot challenge are mapped to these pre-apprenticeship standards giving students an advantage when interviewing for summer internships in tech. The committee is still loosely organizing apprenticeship events today.

As part of the committee’s initiatives, Casper College offered a cybersecurity boot camp in August of 2021 and now CyberWyoming and Casper College are offering a Teens Exploring Careers camp in June 2023.  The 2023 camp will encourage girls to explore their digital world in a career setting, including hands-on experiences in a mock hospital setting and a murder mystery involving the theft of intellectual property.

Casper also touts the first two Cybersecurity Technician graduates in the region, Sayer Hendrickson and John Weber both with CMIT Solutions and in attendance at the event.  Cybersecurity Technician Apprenticeship standards are advanced level standards that include policy writing to network intrusion detection. The graduation certificate is issued by the Department of Labor and is nationally recognized. 

Registered apprenticeship is free to any employer and apprentice and provides a nationally recognized structured learning plan to train employees.

Laura Baker, CyberWyoming Executive Director, said with the observance of 85th anniversary of the National Apprenticeship Act, the concept of apprenticeship is being transformed to meet our digital world with apprenticeship learning programs for technology and cybersecurity.

“Registered apprenticeship programs enable employers to develop and train their future workforce while offering career seekers pathways to good, quality jobs, and well-paying careers,” Baker said.

Laura Baker of CyberWyoming reading the proclamation with Steven Schnell of the Science Zone to the right.

She noted that according to Cyberseek.org, Wyoming has 722 job openings in cybersecurity including the titles of IT Manager, Network Engineer, and Systems Analyst, in addition to the standard titles that include the word cybersecurity. 

For more information about CyberWyoming’s registered apprenticeship program, contact Laura Baker at infocyberwyoming.org

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