Penn State Wilkes-Barre Teams With Fortinet for Cybersecurity Education – Government Technology

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Penn State Wilkes-Barre Teams With Fortinet for Cybersecurity Education

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Penn State Wilkes-Barre has partnered with the cybersecurity company Fortinet to offer students training and certifications in Fortinet systems while getting their degrees, at no extra cost.


(TNS) — Asked what’s new at Penn State Wilkes-Barre and administrators and staff point to what is arguably the oldest about the campus: making higher education more accessible.

It’s the notion that gives the local campus of such a large university a reason to exist, and it’s what spurs the latest developments they tout: A new partnership that gives cybersecurity students an edge on graduation, a new emphasis on restorative justice in the criminal justice program, and a new Lion CUBs program for college-bound high school seniors.

“We are tailoring (cybersecurity) to the changing landscape,” Information Technology Program co-coordinator Brian Reese said. “One of the new features is a partnership with a third party, nationwide security company.”

PSWB has teamed with Fortinet, a well-known company that bills itself as “a leader in enterprise-class cybersecurity and networking innovation.” The partnership can “fortify students in hardware and software to be more successful when they go into industry.”

Once out looking for jobs, “students need certification to prove knowledge outside of university knowledge, to prove they can perform some tasks or have some skill sets.” Now students can take Fortinet training and certifications while still getting their degrees, at no cost.

And they can keep advancing through different steps of training and certification. “Once you complete the training, you take an exam and they grant you certification for a set amount of time,” Reese said. “Anyone can go at it when they feel prepared.”

The training, ultimately, is in Fortinet systems only, but getting the first levels of certification can still be a big help even if they go to work with companies that use a different system.

“The entry level certifications are going to be more broad, more about understanding concepts and less about their product,” he said. It “can still apply to other products.”

Taking the training has also proven a boon independent of the certifications. Reese said students who complete the Fortinet work showed “huge improvement” in class and lab work, most likely because they are “seeing it in a different perspective.”

The restorative justice initiative is spearheaded by faculty members Rebecca Sarver and Jeremy Olson, and they say it remains rare in higher ed criminal justice programs, but that they have worked with outside law enforcement agencies in bringing it from theory to practice.

Olson describes it as going beyond punishment and thinking about healing all parties, victims and perpetrators. He uses the word “happiness,” in an Aristotelian sense.

The famous Greek philosopher parsed happiness into several levels, but the overarching idea — or at least the one most people are likely to come across — is that happiness is obtained by achieving the highest common good over lifetime. It’s “about things people need to be happy across time, space and culture,” Olson said.

Much of the current criminal justice system only looks at the punishment, Olson said. “That focuses on half the issue.” Restorative justice looks to help all parties heal from the crime, and that can require them to meet in person. It’s become integral to juvenile delinquency.

“When a juvenile does a crime, a restorative justice conference will work with each party individually to prepare to meet face to face, so the defendant can face the consequences of his actions, and the victim can hear the defendant recognize the mistake. “

If the juvenile in the system realizes how his actions harmed the victim, the two parties can “come up with a way to repair that harm.”

This process can even remove the case from the courts, resolving it without a judge deciding what action to mandate. It can also save taxpayers money, if the juvenile is spared placement in a facility, which can cost hundreds of dollars a day.

Olson said it can even help prevent crime, if a potentially violent person is identified and a way is found to give them a level of contentment they feel has been denied.

While restorative justice is incorporated into the campus’ criminal justice program, Olson stressed it is up to the student to embrace or discard it. “They don’t have to buy into it, it doesn’t affect their grades.”

But it does “help the students to see there are flaws in our criminal justice system,” Sarver said. I think it helps inspire them to work toward improvements.” It also can expand their view of what jobs to seek.

“Students come thinking they can only work in law enforcement, courts or corrections. but they can work in other systems outside of the criminal justice system.”

The Lion CUBs program has an eye on prospective freshmen, not graduate prospects. It’s a readiness program for high school seniors who are involved getting assistance through the Luzerne Intermediate Unit, a state agency offering a variety of education services that can fill gaps school districts sometimes can’t easily plug.

Working with transition specialists at the LIU, PSWB helps “students who benefit from learning accommodations, who come from under-represented and under-resourced demographics,” program coordinator Erin Brennan explained.

Once a month, those students (36 in this year’s class) are brought to the Lehman Township campus and given “academic sessions on college math, writing, financial literacy” and other topics that “are sometimes daunting to incoming college students.”

It also can assure students they will have the support they need in college, and to help them see what majors are most likely to get them to the jobs they want. But there is also some time used “to let them know that, hopefully, college is also a time to enjoy yourself. We do teamwork activities, play ping pong in the commons, go to the gym, give them the full experience of being a college student.”

And the sessions are broad enough that, even if students decide college isn’t right for them, they will be better prepared for alternatives such as trade schools or enlisting in the military. “They get to branch out from their own district, and build a network and get comfortable being with — and learning with — students they otherwise would never have met.”

©2024 The Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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