FPS cybersecurity students learn from Michigan FBI

By: Zachary Manning | Farmington Press | Published March 8, 2021

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FARMINGTON — Students participating in the Farmington Public Schools cybersecurity class were in for a treat when Michigan FBI Agent Willie G. Council appeared as a guest speaker.

The cybersecurity program is making its debut at FPS this year, with Farmington and North Farmington high school career and technical education IT business teacher Jason Canfield leading the way.

During his guest appearance, the group was able to talk through a slew of topics, including the growing need for cybersecurity experts in the field of criminal justice and government sectors, such as the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

He explained how to become an intern with the FBI and what it takes to make a career as an FBI agent. Things such as degrees, certifications and pay ranges in the government and criminal justice sectors of cybersecurity were discussed.

He also explained the physical and mental requirements of these positions.

Canfield said he has received positive feedback about the visit and the class as a whole.

“I think that it opened their eyes up. A lot of the students didn’t really realize that there’s branches in the FBI or these governmental agencies like the CIA or the National Security Agency that have cyber teams that work and countermeasure these bad actors,” Canfield said.

Making its debut this year, the cybersecurity class focuses on topics that revolve around the ever-changing technological environment.

Students who participate in the class learn how to prevent malicious hackers from getting into information systems, data breaches, layers of security, computer networks, cyberforensics and the application of systems that can be securely locked down.

Completion of the course could lead to numerous industry certifications and jobs in information technology, computer information systems and criminal justice. Canfield notes that skills in cybersecurity can be used across a variety of careers, especially with how much more technology is being used in today’s society.

“Some of the students I have right now, they want to go into finance. It would just be good common knowledge to know for a finance degree. It would be good common knowledge to know for any type of health care degree,” Canfield said. “You can really make an argument that it really can blend into virtually any type of career.”

The course has already been approved for future years as part of the CTE program, and Canfield hopes to improve and grow the program as it gains more traction.

Thus far, the program has received positive feedback. After the class met with Council, Luke Frohriep, a senior at Farmington High School stated, “It was really interesting. I want to look into careers within the FBI and see what is involved,” according to a press release.

Melanie Nowak, the district’s career and innovation coordinator, notes that with cybersecurity and tech jobs being in demand, it makes sense to offer a program helping students understand the fundamentals.

Nowak has been happy with the success of the program thus far and applauds Canfield for taking the initiative to help jump-start it.

“Not only are they learning skills that are very specific to cybersecurity, but they’re also learning about ethics and ethics in the field of computer safety. They’re learning about the careers that are available to them,” Nowak said. “Jason Canfield has done an awesome job of structuring the class in a manner in which they are able to glean information in each of those areas.”