The demand for technical training from area institutions of higher learning has resulted in yet another recent expansion, as UMBC Training Centers, an affiliate of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), has opened a 12,000-square-foot facility in the Westridge Corporate Center in Columbia Gateway Business Park.
“Our Columbia location enables us to better support contractors and organizations, working in the Washington, D.C., and Fort Meade areas,” said Kent Malwitz, president.
“UMBC is a significant research institution [and] we created the training center to extend [its offerings] to professionals who need increased skills,” said Malwitz of the centers, which were established in 2000 and offer a blend of noncredit technical, scientific and professional training programs for a non-traditional academic audience.
“We try to teach solid, logical thinking and problem-solving,” he said. “While tools or technology may change, people still need to understand the basics; the technologies may be new, but the concepts are familiar. We have to continue to learn. Change is pervasive.”
Although still maintaining space on the main UMBC campus, the new location will serve as the centers’ headquarters.
“It’s all new spaces,” said Malwitz, “[and it is designed in a fashion that is] most useful for the faculty and students. We had more communication and collaboration in mind. We have five computer labs and most of the classrooms are located around the perimeter to take advantage of the natural light. We also [offer] parking adjacent to the building.”
The centers’ core program areas include information technology (IT), cybersecurity, project management, business and systems analysis, systems engineering, engineering, leadership development, human resource management, certified financial planner, sonography, higher education test preparation and biotechnology.
In addition, the facility is an Authorized Certification Testing Center for Pearson/Vue and Prometric, administering professional certification exams and assessments. Although the center does offer programs designed for specific corporate or organizational audiences, many of programs are open enrollment, aimed at individuals looking for professional skills.
“It’s mostly IT training,” said Malwitz, “The bulk of what we do is cybersecurity training.”
Building on UMBC’s designation as a National Center of Excellence in Information Security and Assurance, the center launched the Center for Cybersecurity Training in 2010. Courses focus on cybersecurity awareness, network security and administration, developing secure software, computer forensics and network testing. The center also administers a number of certification programs.
This fall, the center will inaugurate its new Cyber Academy, a nine-month, full-time, intensive education program designed to prepare students for immediate employment in cybersecurity jobs in the government and industry. The academy will advance civilians and military personnel from basic computer competence up to an entry-level professional in one of five specialties aligned with the recent National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education framework.
“We plan to produce people who can jump on a keyboard and defend against an attack,” said Malwitz. He added that the academy concept has drawn heavily on the experience of the center’s director for cybersecurity training, Homer Minnick, while working on education and training efforts within the Department of Defense.
“We are operating above the boutique level,” said Malwitz. “We want to be the go-to place, the leading provider of cybersecurity training in the region. We also want to be a national resource. We are very agile in spinning up new programs.”
Along with conventional classrooms, the center also has “E-learning” studios used to train teachers and instructors how to deliver online programs. A “collaboration room” complete with a drum set and other non-traditional educational devices, offers an environment conducive to group planning efforts.
“We have 250 different classes and the number of students is 2,600,” said Brent Campbell, sales and marketing coordinator. The centers currently employ about 120 instructors and faculty; most are practitioners with deep expertise. Although the courses are noncredit, students can receive American Council on Education credit equivalency. Students can also use G.I. Bill funding and Workforce Investment Act funding to pay for the courses.
Malwitz stated that innovation will be the center’s next major area of emphasis, with the Center for Innovation and Organizational Effectiveness coming online shortly. The center will create programs to help organizations with effective project management, leadership and managing innovation.