Leaders of a local cyber security training center are looking forward to combating challenges and reaching new goals in the coming year.

It’s been just over a year since the Pinckney Cyber Training Institute (PCTI) opened and Director Jim Darga says they’ve already made significant accomplishments. One in particular is creating synergy with various state agencies to provide support to people interested in a career in the cyber security field. PCTI is focused on offering that support to the National Guard, people with disabilities, IT professionals, and companies with new hires or incumbents that need additional training.

Darga is also proud of PCTI’s students, who have been invited to the Governor’s Cyber Security International Conference the last two years. More than half of the people that attend the conference are military personnel, government officials, or high-ranking corporate employees. Darga says it’s impressive to see high school students among the group, learning the same information and networking.

Pinckney is the only school district in the country hosting a cyber training institute that is connected to a cyber range, making the experience one that is entirely new. Darga says there have been some challenges, like trying to assess what the appropriate levels of courses being offered are. The institute is meeting that hurdle by developing a self-assessment component, then creating an educational plan for students.

With a plan in place to address that challenge, institute leaders are setting new goals. Darga is looking to expand PCTI’s offerings by creating a partnership that would provide cyber security education to all school districts in the state of Michigan. He says the goal is to have the Regional Cyber Security Education Collaborative in place within the year. (DK)