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The School of Computer & Information Sciences at University of the Cumberlands (UC) is finding more opportunities for its students to receive hands-on experiences to prepare them for the workforce.

Students in ITSI 331, a computer networking class at Cumberlands, recently visited a local AT&T central office to get a glimpse of what networking looks like for private businesses at the forefront of the industry.

“We talk a lot about the theory of all of this in class and look at how it’s used on campus, but this is the first hop outside of Cumberlands,” explained Justin Hensley, the class’s professor and network director for Cumberlands’ IT department. “It’s important for students to see what it looks like physically – how one business, institution, or home gets to the internet. There are hundreds of thousands of places like this around the world that do the same things. These are all opportunities for students, and this was a chance for them to see it in person.”

Some people think of IT as only what they see on their computer screens, but there is a lot more to it than that. AT&T managers led Cumberlands students through their building - discussing their newest technology, explaining how the equipment works, and answering students’ questions.

“It was really insightful,” said Mackenzie Woods, a freshman from Clinton, Tennessee who is studying IT. “Sitting in class and learning about it is different than actually going out and seeing it. I want a career in cybersecurity. Networking is a part of that.”

Cumberlands’ School of Computer and Information Sciences is a CompTIA authorized academy, which means UC students get half off the typical price for any CompTIA certification exam. CompTIA is a leading tech association that offers four vendor-neutral IT certification series. The networking class’ curriculum includes a product called uCertify, a lab system that helps students prepare for CompTIA exams by providing labs and quizzes mapped toward the exams. Even though a number of students in Networking are not IT majors, they could still earn certification through CompTIA’s Network+ exam.

“Even non-majors can go work in a business and be that ‘smart computer person.’ When a boss is looking at two people to hire, that’s what it could boil down to. That’s an asset,” said Hensley. “I think now that the course is under the school’s CIS program, it prepares students for the real world more than ever it has. Folks who work in the department have spent a lot of time talking to industry experts. We’re designing our courses based off what those experts say. It’s a huge advantage for students.”

For more information on Cumberlands’ IT Sciences degree program, ucumberlands.edu/cyber.

Located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction offering quality undergraduate, graduate, doctoral, and online degree programs. Learn more at ucumberlands.edu