An unnecessary path to tech: A Bachelor’s degree

An unnecessary path to tech: A Bachelor’s degree.

An excellent article on education and technical careers from Computerworld.  TCAT Shelbyville”s CIT program has a 98% retention and 92%+ placement.   Is a degree worth the money?  Yes, after you start your technical career.  Your education in technology cannot end once you start your career.    Are certifications worth their weight?  Absolutely.  If you know the hands-on.   The three, academia, certifications and hands-on is the fastest way to a career in IT.

Computer Information Technology wins CTE: Excellence in Action Award


(L-R) Mike Miller, Assistant IT Manager, Dawn Babain, Network Administrator-LMS Specialist, Ivan Jones, TCAT Director and Steve Mallard, IT Manager


More information on the CIT Program

The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) is pleased to announce our first annual Excellence in Action award, which will recognize and honor superior Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study from around the nation.  

Selected programs of study will exemplify excellence in the implementation of the Career Clusters, and have a meaningful impact on student achievement and success. All winners will be honored at the 2014 Achieving Excellence in Career Technical Education: The National Career Clusters Institute in Phoenix, Arizona on June 16, 2014. – See more at: The National Association of State Directors – CTE


Winners will also be featured:

  • In a national press release, which will be distributed to national media.
  • In a one-pager, used as part of NASDCTEc’s federal advocacy toolkit.
  • In a monthly newsletter sent to members of Congress.
  • In a standalone blog on Learning that Works blog.

- See more at:

Solving The Security Workforce Shortage – DarkReading

According to the study, the most sought-after quality is a broad knowledge of security — more of a strategic understanding than technical know-how followed by certifications.  Read More

Opinion – While certifications are an important part of IT, the technical know-how is the most important. Getting a degree or a certification is a great advancement for your education but can you configure a firewall? Run Linux-OSX- Windows? Support mobile, wireless, servers with Active Directory and monitor and control an IT environment?   That’s the difference between $12 an hour and a career.

Learn cloud computing with Rackspace’s CloudU

Ever wonder what cloud computing is?  Rackspace has an excellent program that you can take for free.   Cloud University offers ten detailed modules along with a exams for each module.    A final exam reviews each of the modules and with a score of 80% you can earn a certificate in cloud computing from Rackspace’s CloudU.   This detailed program is the work of Ben Kepes.   Ben is the curator of CloudU.    Through his arduous work, you can download a detailed curriculum, listen to webinars and take exams as many times as you need to in order to understand cloud computing.    In today’s  world of virtualization and cloud computing, Rackspace leads the pack by educating anyone who wants to learn about these exciting technologies.

After contacting Rackspace so that my students could benefit from the cloud university curriculum as a supplement.   I was met with open arms and personally talked with Greg Alfaro, Michael Ferranti and Ben Kepes either by phone or email.     Ben sent us this video as a statement.    (Thank you Ben!)

Confused about the cloud? Have no fear, CloudU is here. Whether you are simply searching for more information about cloud computing, or are looking to boost your resume with a formal certificate, Rackspace Cloud University, known as CloudU, is for you. CloudU is a vendor-neutral cloud computing curriculum designed by industry analyst Ben Kepes. It’s also completely free.

The extensive CloudU library and certificate program contain all that you need to learn how to take advantage of the biggest technology innovation since the Internet.     Boost Your Resume. Gain New Skills. Enroll in CloudU Today.

“CloudU is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to learn about Cloud Computing. As an instructor of information technology, the certificate provides a great learning tool for the planning, deployment and logistics behind cloud computing.”    ~ Ben Kepes

What makes TCAT Shelbyville’s IT program different?



Exams include Windows 70-680/70-687, Windows Server 2012 70-411/70-640.  The MTA (Microsoft Technical Associate is associated with other certifications in the same curriculum.

The Information Technology program at TCAT Shelbyville offers one of the best programs in the nation for IT professionals.  The amount of resources and curriculum that cover all major operating systems (Linux, Apple and Windows) is delivered by certified and industry leading experts.  With this curriculum, and the round robin method of teaching,  junior students work with senior students and instructors.  A major advantage students have are resources that are available 24/7/365.

Students spend 30 hours each week in lecture, labs and real world hands on for approximately 15 months.  Winning national awards and recognition, the program offers one of the best learning environments in the industry and continues  with a placement rate of over 90% and a retention rate of 96%.


Students can earn up to 10 certifications along with multiple diplomas and certificates.

For more information -
Visit the CIT program at

Note:  The Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Shelbyville is an accredited institution.  

Technology Centers Becoming Colleges of Applied Technology; Recognized for Workforce Education

Full release from the Tennessee Board of Regents can be read here.

Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology Logo

“NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 28, 2013) — The state’s workforce training schools known as Tennessee Technology Centers are being renamed Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology as of July 1.

The name change more accurately reflects the post-secondary training provided at the 27 campuses and many satellite locations across the state. The Tennessee Technology Centers have always been higher education institutions, offering post-secondary programs for workforce preparation. But the previous “center” title was often misunderstood.”


“Our colleges work closely with their surrounding communities to develop programs that support the workforce needs of their industries,” said James King, TBR vice chancellor for the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology. “They play a major role in the workforce development from Memphis to Elizabethton, providing training in industrial, allied health, business and personal service programs for more than 30,000 students every year.”

“Our 84 percent placement rate soars above the national average,” said King.

That success has been noticed by national organizations and higher education leaders around the world. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, Chronicle of Higher Education and other education and media services have all profiled the institutions’ achievements in providing professional and skills training that meets student needs and business and industry demands.

The name change was made possible through legislation introduced by Representative Harry Brooks and Senator Jim Tracy and signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam.

A Geography game using Google Street View – Geogessr

Think you really know Geography?  Geoguessr is an online game that uses Google’s Street View.   With a small map in the corner of Google’s Street View, you pin where you think the Street View scene is.   You then submit your guess and the distance from the real location is measured.     It’s an excellent way to travel and view the world.

G1 G2 First Guess

Give it a shot.  I just couldn’t bring myself to show one of the answers.  Visit GeoGuessr.


  • License plates
  • Signs?
  • Traffic on Left or Right lane?
  • Look at vehicles
  • Flags?
  • Mountain ranges?
  • Trees?  Bushes
  • Coastal?  Think of waterways, look at ships
  • Winds? Look at the trees.
  • Buildings (look at roofs)
  • How are people dressed?

Highest score so far 9800 points….

You have to be versatile in Information Technology

Back in 2007 we published an article on ‘The Challenge of Teaching Information Technology‘.  Recently we were also asked to write and article for TricomTS’s blog The Right fIT (Their Corporate Website is here) on Educating Tomorrow’s IT Professional Today.

So why do I write these articles?  Because Information Technology is growing.   Boot camps are only or should be only for seasoned IT Professionals.  It takes time.  With technology growing, to educate a student and to transfer the amount of information from every resource available – it is not only challenging for the instructor, it is a challenge even to the best students.   IT Professionals cannot take four years to start a career, technology will change so much within a year and the curriculum (accredited) has to be dynamic and change as technology changes.  IT personnel wanting to move up the corporate ladder should go to college later in order to advance.   Many IT pros are specialized career field but a majority of them have to be versatile and their skills have to be diversified.

And with a global economy, IT Professionals have to be lean and they have to learn quicker than ever.

We recently were interviewed by ComputerWorld and provided our look at how the economy and how a global economy changes the way IT thinks, works and reacts to this.  So truly we offer all of this advice to those who want to become an IT professional.  Be ready for change…everyday.  In today’s world, employers do expect a lot out of young IT personnel.  Remember it is the best career in the world to those who have a heart and passion for the industry.

The article from ComputerWorld was picked up by several other magazines and webpages.
CIO Magazine
NetworkWorld Magazine(ARRA)
NetworkWorld Magazine(Leaner Lifestyle)
LinuxWorld Magazine

Information Technology isn’t baking a pie, it’s running a whole bakery.

One of my students who is an IT Manager for a government entity said young IT personnel (including herself when she was new in the industry) often think that information technology is as simple as baking a pie, when in reality they find they are running a whole bakery.

She found out she wasn’t just fixing computers, she was fixing networks, managing domains, working with dozens of proprietary software packages, managing access points, working with security, web pages, portable devices (laptops, netbooks, ipads) and a ton of other tasks.

Information Technology is a skill that takes years to learn.

Surprise visits are always good


I wrote a post called “I didn’t change them, they changed me”,  that gave kudos to Carleton Corley.   In fact, recently he came by and has been promoted to a level II Analyst.   During his visit, he was admiring my Microsoft hoodie and I took it off and tossed it to him.  He has grown so much in the past year servicing his personnel and constantly working with migrating software and hardware that he deserved it (not that it has superpowers).  I just hope all of the success stories (students) don’t admire my Microsoft apparel.

The next week I got a surprise visit from Molly Davis who stopped by on her way to work.

Molly You see, Molly is like a daughter to me.  She was treated like every other student and faced many challenges to get to where she is now.    Always working and going to school showed she had a desire to make it in today’s world.  Molly’s sense of humor and contagious smile always brings a smile to my face. In fact, our network admin, Dawn also saw Molly’s desire to succeed and helped her (just as she does all students) along they way.

Within a week, I got a call from Tasha Caldwell,  who informed me she is moving to a new job at a major hospital system after working for two years at a large government contractor.   Tasha being the mom of a teenager never gives up and continues to grow in information technology.

And who will ever forget when Kyle Stubblefield came by at Valentine’s Day to thank Dawn, Mike and myself.  So we became Kyle’s valentine for the day.

Eric Caneer, Jared Ledlow, Danny Carlo (with his new baby and significant other) all came by during the day in person to say hi and to share their success stories.  Neil Spector dropped in at night just to check on us and to talk with students.

Oddly enough, it didn’t end there.  I went to speak about internet security in Nashville and lo and behold, Billy Young shows up just to tell me about his new job (always moving up).   This day oddly became the day of Billys.  Billy Bellamy called later to announce a job opening at his organization.

And the week finished with Maggie stopping by to tell us about her travels.  Awesome.  Truly Awesome.

Although we give the students a well rounded education to become system admins,  their stories of learning advanced information technology  never fails to amaze me that they have become so analytical.

Oddly enough, as I explain these visits to Mike and Dawn (my c0-workers), I realize that as I’m looking at them, they too are former students.

Recently Dawn and I won a Shining Star award for our Learning Management System,  I realize how much Dawn has grown in IT.  In fact I was enthusiastically telling her about the award as she was writing PHP and script for the LMS.  Skills she developed on her own.

This post truly isn’t about me or our program.  It is about a desire to want more and to learn more.  It is about people.  People who changed their lives through their passion to learn.

As I said before, when I watch these challenges being overcome,  it changes me each and every time.   These students are truly another slice of my life that provides me with the motivation to keep doing what I do.

2013 Middle Tennessee Cyber Summit: Building Partnerships and Understanding the Threat

2013 Middle Tennessee Cyber Summit:

Building Partnerships and Understanding the Threat


Middle Tennessee Cyber Summit: Building Partnerships and Understanding the Threat will be held on the MTSU campus May 7 and 8. This event will address criminal, intelligence, disruptive, and information cyber threats and be of particular interest to city/state/federal governments, healthcare, education, transportation, financial, utilities, and business industries.

Presentations from U.S. Department of Homeland Security, TN Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Secret Service and private sector cyber security.


2013 Middle Tennessee Cyber Summit:   Building Partnerships and Understanding the Threat

 When: Tuesday, May 7 – Wednesday, May 8

Where: MTSU campus, Student Union Ballroom

Cost: $30 per attendee

Attendees: state/local/federal govt. agencies, utilities, private sector, education, healthcare, transportation, financial

Credits/Certifications: CEUs available

Middle Tennessee Cyber Summit: Building Partnerships and Understanding the Threat will be held on the MTSU campus May 7-8. This event will address criminal, intelligence, disruptive, and information cyber threats and is scheduled to include presentations from U.S. Department of Homeland Security, TN Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Secret Service, and private sector cyber security organizations.

Tuesday, May 7

7:30 – 8:00       Registration and Networking

8:00 – 8:30       Welcome and Introduction

MTSU Representative

TN Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons and Assistant Commissioner David Purkey

8:30 – 9:15      Emerging Threats in Cyber Security

Speaker TBA, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

 9:15 – 10:45     China, Cyber, and U.S. Energy: Who, What, Why, and What’s Next

Betsy Woudenberg, Chief Cyber Officer, Intelligence Arts

A discussion of China as our cyber adversary, using cyber attacks on U.S. and global energy companies to illustrate how the Communist Party’s domestic objectives drive its cyber espionage campaigns


10:45 – 11:30    Vendor tables and break

11:30 – 12:30    Lunch

12:30 – 1:15      Keynote

Scott Augenbaum, Supervisory Special Agent, Cyber Crime Squad, Federal Bureau of Investigation

1:15 – 2:30         TBA

Speaker TBA, Federal Bureau of Investigation

2:30 – 2:45         Break

2:45 – 4:30         Secret Service – Cyber Crime Investigations

Todd Hudson, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service

Wednesday, May 8

8:00 – 9:00           Social Engineering

Sese Bennett, Information Officer, State of Tennessee


9:00 – 10:00      SCADA

Speaker TBA, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

10:00 – 11:15      Intrusion Case Studies

Steve Mallard, IT Director, Tennessee Technology Center at Shelbyville

11:15 – 11:30      Break (vendor tables close at 12)

11:30 – 12:30      Lunch

12:30 – 2:00        Keynote:SCADA for Spies

Betsy Woudenberg, Chief Cyber Officer, Intelligence Arts

An introduction to SCADA – the technology that automates critical infrastructure – and how adversaries can penetrate these systems using humans and technology

2:00 – 2:15           Break

2:15 – 4:30           Cloud/Mobility Security

Speaker TBA

Event Sponsored by:

 Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

Forensic Institute for Research and Education

Middle Tennessee State University

MTSU Information Technology Division

Enterasys Inc.


Registration information:

Date: Tuesday, May 7 – Wednesday May 8

Location: MTSU New Student Union Building

Cost: $30 per attendee (No Federal funds are expended to cover any catering or food)

Attendees: state/local/federal government agencies, utilities, private sector, education, healthcare, transportation, and financial, and law enforcement

Credits/Certifications: CEUs available ($10 MTSU fee)

Register Here

For more information, please contact: Karen Austin at or 615-494-7971