The Pinckney Cyber Training Institute (CTI) and Career and Technical Education (CTE) program continues to grow and create more opportunities as new partnerships develop.

As an organization of the Pinckney Community Schools district, the training center offers hands-on courses, exercises, certifications and product testing to students, business owners and IT Professionals looking to hone their cyber security skills. Though CTI has already seen its fair share of success, Institute Director Jim Darga says a number of partnerships have or are being formed that will make the program more accessible. Darga attended a recent Board of Education meeting and shared details of the avenues that are being explored. One such partnership is the Michigan Cybersecurity Inclusion Initiative, which is focused on working with people with disabilities. Darga says CTI is partnering with eight different organizations to build a system to provide the technical training and support that those individuals need to be successful in cyber security careers.

He adds that the Marshall Plan is another initiative that looks to bring people with disabilities into the high-tech workforce. The Marshall Plan was launched in August of 2018, with $100 million earmarked to provide high-skill, high-demand training programs throughout the state in order to build the workforce. Darga says they are trying to leverage that grant opportunity to support CTI's program for cyber security training people with disabilities.

Darga says they’ve been working since late October on a partnership with Michigan Virtual; an online and blended learning nonprofit organization. The purpose of the partnership is to be able to leverage Michigan Virtual and their ability to provide cybersecurity education to all high schools in the state. He says CTI has a “tremendous” partnership with Washtenaw Community College, as the dual enrollment courses and ability to share faculty is a significant benefit to both organizations and the students.

Darga says such partnerships are important, as he’s found that both sides rely on one another. Businesses help develop the workforce, but need talented students trained in that field to do so. With the funding that is provided to Michigan schools, Darga says it’s extremely difficult to develop a viable program like CTI because of the capital expenditures involved, and the need for infrastructure and human resources. He praised the partnerships that CTI already has in place and those that are being pursued, noting that the institute relies heavily on business partners for donations, equipment and expertise. (DK)