Laurel Ridge cybersecurity degree program achieves prestigious ABET accreditation

For Immediate Release:
September 10, 2021

Primary Media Contact:
Sally Voth
Public Relations Specialist
[email protected]
Phone: 540-868-7134

With cybersecurity threats making frequent headlines, there has never been a greater need for professionals to protect data and assets from cyber criminals. Just this year alone, data breaches and ransomware hacks have targeted the U.S. military and those of our allies, telecommunications organizations, municipal networks, the airlines industry, health agencies, the gas industry, transportation systems, banks, individuals and more.

In 2015, under the leadership of Dr. Henry Coffman, Laurel Ridge became one of the first two community colleges in Virginia to be designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense by the U.S. National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

Now, the college is proud to announce that Dr. Coffman has led the Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity to accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC). ABET approved the accreditation in August, but the accreditation is retroactive to Oct. 1, 2019, and remains in effect until 2026.

The A.A.S. cybersecurity program is one of the first in the world and is the only community college program in Virginia to receive such accreditation. Laurel Ridge’s faculty have worked hard to develop a program that is a model for cyber education, and this accreditation confirms our status as a leader in the field.

ABET-CAC is considered a prestigious recognition with only select top schools accredited internationally. Having this accreditation process gives Laurel Ridge another method of continuous improvement for this program, including greater access to cybersecurity professors and practitioners who can help ensure that Laurel Ridge’s program is offering students a quality learning experience.

Laurel Ridge’s cybersecurity graduates are able to either immediately enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year university to attain their bachelor’s degree. Alexia Maynard, a 2020 cybersecurity graduate, stated she was happy to learn of the program’s accreditation. Maynard, who was the recipient of the Ross Fellowship for Service and Scholarship during her time at Laurel Ridge, is in her senior year at George Mason University, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. “I have certainly been well prepared by Laurel Ridge for my GMU classes and have had no issue applying my knowledge from Laurel Ridge to my current courses,” she said.

Dean of Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Health Ia Gomez states, “Receiving the ABET accreditation is an outstanding achievement, in addition to our current center for academic excellence designation. We have always been very proud of our cybersecurity program and the ABET accreditation not only reaffirms the strength of our program, but also elevates it and places it at the forefront of cybersecurity education at the community college level. Our cybersecurity students receive great knowledge and a tremendous skillset that will make them competitive when they enter the cybersecurity workforce.”

“Accreditation by ABET signifies that the cybersecurity program meets rigorous industry standards and produces graduates who are prepared to enter a critical technical field and lead the way in innovation and emerging technologies, and anticipate the welfare and safety needs of the public,” said Dr. Melissa Stange, professor of computer science who has served as a program evaluator of cybersecurity at four-year institutions for ABET. “Students who graduate from an ABET-accredited program are also seen favorably by employers and other institutions of higher education.” 

Learn more about Laurel Ridge’s cybersecurity program at laurelridge.edu/cybersecurity. For more information about ABET, its member societies, and the accreditation criteria used to evaluate programs, visit www.abet.org.

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Founded in 1970, Laurel Ridge Community College is a multi-campus public institution of higher education. With four locations — Middletown, Warrenton, Luray-Page County and most recently, Vint Hill— the College serves eight localities in the Shenandoah Valley and northern Piedmont regions. The localities are the counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah and Warren and the city of Winchester. Laurel Ridge offers more than 75 associate degree and certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines, in addition to providing access to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs offered on site by a four-year institution. Laurel Ridge also serves the business community by offering workforce preparation programs for employees and employers. Laurel Ridge serves more than 9,000 unduplicated credit students and more than 11,000 individuals in professional development and business and industry courses annually.

Laurel Ridge Community College (Laurel Ridge) is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Laurel Ridge Community College. Laurel Ridge Community College is an equal opportunity institution providing educational and employment opportunities, programs, services, and activities and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, marital status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or other non-merit factors. Laurel Ridge also prohibits sexual misconduct including sexual violence or harassment.

Laurel Ridge Community College was known as Lord Fairfax Community College until June 2022. For consistency purposes, the college will be referenced as Laurel Ridge going forward.

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