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There are many jobs available in the Detroit area, but often there’s a gap between the skills someone has and the skills a new career requires.

To help address that, the Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD), in partnership with Merit Network, the Michigan Cyber Range and Mile2, recently unveiled an innovative veterans’ retraining program. The program, which lasts 13 weeks and prepares veterans for a career in cybersecurity, is unlike any other in the country.

“We are very proud of this program,” said Don Welch, president and CEO of Merit Network. “It meets two important needs: helping our veterans and effective cybersecurity training.”

The 17 participants in the program were selected based on their experience and aptitude in conjunction with Wayne County’s veteran affairs office.

The unique retraining program aimed to place veterans in the high-demand cybersecurity field by exposing students to the challenges faced by cybersecurity professionals. The program included five weeks of instructor-led curriculum followed by four weeks of hands-on lab experience. The next three weeks of the course involved Alphaville capture-the-flag exercises, and the final week required resume writing and interview skills development.

For seven weeks, students had access to the Michigan Cyber Range’s Alphaville environment and Mile2’s lab environment. This enabled students to safely practice ethical hacking and penetration testing in virtual environments disconnected from the Internet.

WCCCD held the program in its new state-of-the-art cybersecurity lab at the Fort Street Campus in downtown Detroit. Merit, a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities, hosted students for capture the flag exercises at the Michigan Cyber Range.

Mile2, an organization that designs, develops, and delivers cybersecurity certifications, provided the instructors who taught the program’s five cybersecurity certification courses.

“Mile2 is extremely excited to have been chosen to spearhead the first veterans retraining program of this magnitude,” exclaimed Raymond Friedman, CEO of Mile2. “As a cybersecurity officer, I know the challenges of learning new skills in an aggressively evolving technological space, and Mile2 wanted to do it right the first go-around with 100% success!”

The program’s success has encouraged the participating organizations to offer the cybersecurity retraining program to veterans again.

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