Cybersecurity Programs

Every organization thrives on the data that keeps it afloat. Just like a house that protects the contents and the people within from environmental, person and physical threats, data needs protection as well.  Just ask Target, Anthem, some universities, etc.

The Cybersecurity program at Laurel Ridge Community College strives to  prepare individuals to assess the threats and tackle the methods so as to thwart possible negative outcomes before they occur.  Each student in the program is prepared with the knowledge and skills to choose how to become a future Cyber warrior who can analyze and defend against adversaries within the United States shores.  Your choice can be through additional advanced study at an institution of higher learning or by entering directly into the cybersecurity career workforce.  Either choice requires perseverance, dedication and a passion for the highly technical skills necessary to be successful for this career path.  Are you ready for it?  Can you hack it? Can you be the next Cyber Warrior that prevents  a major cyber attack?  Will you discover the right encryption algorithm to keep data safe for decades to come?  Let’s find out.  That may be you.

CAE2Y Designated Degree Program

The AAS in Cybersecurity degree program is designated by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a program of quality that satisfy specific knowledge and skill objectives as evaluated by those government agencies.

ABET Accredited Degree Program

The AAS in Cybersecurity degree program is accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET,

Equal Opportunity Program

The Cybersecurity program supports equality and diversity. There are various career opportunities in cybersecurity for women and minorities, so women and minorities are strongly encourage to apply.

Program Overview

Laurel Ridge Community College offers two pathways to develop the skills and knowledge needed to embark on a successful career within the field of cybersecurity:

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Cybersecurity  (CAE2Y)

The AAS  degree program can be completed in two years with two primarily objectives for graduates: 1) transferring to four year bachelor degree programs or 2)  choosing direct employment into the cybersecurity field.

Cybersecurity Career Studies Certificate (CSC)

The CSC can be completed in one year and/or its courses can be transferred to the AAS degree program, if so chosen at a later time.   The CSC is a separate path designed to add a skill set to students who may have a degree or to those who want an additional skill set.

Both programs (AAS and CSC) are currently offered at the Middletown and Fauquier Campuses.

Associate of Science in Science:  Cybersecurity Engineering Specialization (ASCYSE)

This is new degree beginning Fall 2020 which looks at the security of hardware, and SCADA related systems (electrical, water, ecological, PLCs, etc.).

Student Learning Outcomes

ABET Criterion 3 Program Student Outcomes Criteria

Graduates of the program will have an ability to:

  1. Analyze a complex computing problem and to apply principles of computing and
    other relevant disciplines to identify solutions.
  2. Apply security principles and practices to maintain operations in the presence of risks
    and threats.
  3. Communicate effectively in a variety of professional contexts.
  4. Recognize professional responsibilities and make informed judgments in computing
    practice based on legal and ethical principles.
  5. Function effectively as a member or leader of a team engaged in activities appropriate
    to the program’s discipline.

Program Educational Objectives

General Program Educational Objectives (PEOs). (Also on the Laurel Ridge main program page)

Within three to five years after graduation, graduates of the Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity program at Laurel Ridge are expected to achieve the following:

  1. Direct Job Placement in Cybersecurity Discipline

Graduates are gainfully employed in a cybersecurity role

  1. Advanced Skills for Cybersecurity Positions of Higher Complexity and Career Growth

Graduates gain additional education for positions in high demand cybersecurity roles

  1. Advanced Degree/Credential Attainment

Graduates can obtain the advanced degree so as to contribute positively to the community.


Cyber Careers

The federal government is hiring! The Office of Personnel Management has new information available for job seekers about cybersecurity openings around the country. Whether you’re looking for an executive or entry level position, in IT or in administration, see why a federal job might be the right choice for you.

Find out more about federal CyberCareers and apply today!

In-Demand Careers in Cyber Security

Cyber security is booming and currently job postings for cyber security professionals is outpacing most other areas of Information Technology. There is expected to be a shortage of shortage of trained cyber security professionals (Read More).   A cybersecurity specialist certificate, an associates of applied science degree in cybersecurity or the associates of science with a cybersecurity engineering specialization from Laurel Ridge Community College can start you right in a fast-growing field.

Cyber Security Employment Opportunities

Learn about internships and jobs in cyber security, including positions posted by companies looking to hire Laurel Ridge students. Plus, find out how Laurel Ridge career coaches can review your resume, cover letter, prepare for interviews and help you find job openings.

Cyber Security Roles and Job Titles

To better describe the scope of those positions, employers often precede the above titles with qualifying terms like “Cyber”, “Information”, “Computer”, “Network”, “IT”, and “Applications”. This results in fuller job titles such as IT Security Engineer, Information Security Analyst, Network Security Administrator, IT Security Consultant, etc.. Special variations of titles are sometimes preferred, such as Information Assurance Analyst, and Security Software Developer. Also, some security jobs are even more specialized, such as cryptographer, intrusion detection specialist, and computer security incident responder. Click here to see 20 cool information security & cybersecurity jobs from the SANS Institute.

Additional terms are sometimes used to convey rank, such as Senior IT Security Consultant, and Chief Information Security Officer. Graduates of the new program will normally qualify for such high ranks after several years of on-the-job experience.

Common Job Titles

  • Security Analyst – Analyzes and assesses vulnerabilities in the infrastructure (software, hardware, networks), investigates available tools and countermeasures to remedy the detected vulnerabilities, and recommends solutions and best practices. Analyzes and assesses damage to the data/infrastructure as a result of security incidents, examines available recovery tools and processes, and recommends solutions. Tests for compliance with security policies and procedures. May assist in the creation, implementation, and/or management of security solutions.
  • Security Engineer – Performs security monitoring, security and data/logs analysis, and forensic analysis, to detect security incidents, and mounts incident response. Investigates and utilizes new technologies and processes to enhance security capabilities and implement improvements.
  • Security Architect – Designs a security system or major components of a security system, and may head a security design team building a new security system.
  • Security Administrator – Installs and manages organization-wide security systems. May also take on some of the tasks of a security analyst in smaller organizations.
  • Security Software Developer – Develops security software, including tools for monitoring, traffic analysis, intrusion detection, virus/spyware/malware detection, anti-virus software, and so on. Also integrates/implements security into applications software.
  • Cryptographer/Cryptologist – Uses encryption to secure information or to build security software. Also works as researcher to develop stronger encryption algorithms.
  • Cryptanalyst – Analyzes encrypted information to break the code/cipher or to determine the purpose of malicious software.
  • Chief Information Security Officer – A high-level management position responsible for the entire information security division/staff. The position may include hands-on technical work.
  • Security Consultant/Specialist – Broad titles that encompass any one or all of the other roles/titles, tasked with protecting computers, networks, software, data, and/or information systems against viruses, worms, spyware, malware, intrusion detection, unauthorized access, denial-of-service attacks, and an ever increasing list of attacks by hackers acting as individuals or as part of organized crime or foreign governments.

Very Specialized Roles

  • Intrusion Detection Specialist – Monitors networks, computers, and applications in large organizations, looking for events and traffic indicators that signal intrusion. Determines the damage caused by detected intrusions, identifies how an intrusion occurred, and recommends safeguards against similar intrusions. Also does penetration testing to identify vulnerabilities and recommend safeguards as preemptive measures.
  • Computer Security Incident Responder – As a team member usually, prepares for and mounts rapid response to security threats and attacks such as viruses and denial-of-service attacks.
  • Source Code Auditor – Reviews software source code to identify potential security issues and vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers to gain unauthorized access to data and system resources.
  • Virus Technician – Analyzes newly discovered computer viruses, and designs and develops software to defend against them.
  • Penetration Tester (also known as Ethical Hacker or Assurance Validator) – Scans for and identifies vulnerabilities, and exploits them to provide hard evidence that they are vulnerabilities. When penetration-testing large infrastructures such as power grids, utility systems, and nuclear facilities, large teams of penetration testers, called Red Teams, are employed.
  • Vulnerability Assessor – Scans for, identifies and assesses vulnerabilities in IT systems including computers, networks, software systems, information systems, and applications software.

Cyber Defense News

Latest Cybersecurity News

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Laurel Ridge’s Technology services team provides computer security information on topics such as passwords, firewalls, USB devices, system updates, state computer security news, and details about what the Virginia Community College System considers “sensitive data” online.

To help protect students and employees from obtaining viruses on their personal computers Laurel Ridge offers a Nortan’s Anti-Virus software to all via secure download from within the college’s learning management system. Additional information on registry cleaners, anti-virus software, and security organizations can be found within the Center’s Clearinghouse area.

Students and employees are encouraged to use the “See Something, Say Something” site to fill out the See Something, Say Something report form if they have cyber concerns at the college.

The Laurel Ridge Information Security Officer has produced a short Video to help remind employees and students that October is Cyber Security Awareness Month.

To stay on top of cyber security and cyber crime around the world by bookmarking the following:

Virginia Cybersecurity Conference Agenda

The fourth annual Virginia Cybersecurity Education Conference will be held on July 20 in a virtual  format as in 2020.  Details can be found at  Agenda is still being developed.

The third annual Virginia Cybersecurity Education Conference was hosted by the Virginia Cyber Range, on July 27-28, 2020 which was originally scheduled to be at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference follow a virtual format.  TPlease refer to the main Virginia Cyber Range at the hyperlink above for further details on the program, conferences and other activities that occurred.  This annual conference is open to all Virginia high school, college, and university faculty, administrators, and partners. Stay up to date on the conference by subscribing to the Cyber Range newsletter here.

George Mason University Cyber Security Engineering: Masters Approved

The Volgenau School of Engineering at George Mason University received approval for a Masters in Cybersecurity Engineering so that student scan now move from the BS in Cyber Security Engineering to the MS in Cyber Security Engineering.  For the Laurel Ridge student, this provides an opportunity for the student in the Associate of Science: Cybersecurity Engineering specialization to follow a career path to a masters degree level.   Check out GMU’s Engineering web site for details.

The National CyberWatch Center has opened registration for the National Cybersecurity Student Association. Membership allows students to display member logs within social networking and media sites and on their resumes. Please go to the association website at to learn more.

CAE Community News

CAE in Cybersecurity Community distributes cybersecurity information frequently during the month.  The information may include happenings in competitions, conferences, tech talks, vacancy announcements, and other newsworthy events.   The news component of the site can be reviewed at  Some components are only opened to CAE (Center of Academic Excellence) members.

Archived Defense News

On February 25, 2014 Governor McAuliffe signed Executive Order Number 8: Creating Cyber Virginia and the VA Cyber Security Commission. More details on cyber initiatives can be found at


Cyber Criminals often have access to sophisticated technology and enjoy the ability to organize and work collaboratively. As we continue to increase the amount of online transactions, the need for tools to increase protection of data and systems will continue to grow.

Laurel Ridge’s Cybersecurity Center hopes that the information on the below pages will provide you the necessary details to help you protect yourself and your data from cyber criminals.

Antivirus Software

When selecting an antivirus software package, there are a few things to keep in mind before making your selection. The following lists what many experts say should be considered before making your choice.

By following these simple steps, your choice of antivirus software will provide you with compatibility, protection, and detection designed for your computer and avoid all of the potential pitfalls along the way.

  1.  What operating system you are currently using and if you are likely to upgrade should be taken into consideration before making your choice. Some antivirus software will not work on certain operating systems. Some are made specifically for certain systems. For example, software made by Windows is not going to work on a Mac.
  2. What do you use your computer for? Are you a gamer? Do you surf the Web a lot? Or do you use your computer primarily for work? There are different levels of protection needed for the different uses of your computer. Your selection should be based on what you predominantly use your computer for.
  3. After you have made a list of selections that you think are good, check them against lists made by certification and testing companies to see how they stack up against the competition. If you don’t see your selection on one of these lists, chances are that it is not a very good antivirus software. Two labs noted for testing this software are VB100% and ICSA labs.
  4. After you have checked to make sure your choices are certified, notice the test scores attributed to the different software packages. The test scores are based on how well each software ranks with respect to protection and detection. Make sure your final choices are ranked consistently high before the final step.
  5. The final step is to test each of your final selections to see how well they do on your system. Your computer system may be similar to others, but it is distinctive in that it is a reflection of you and how you use the computer.

Registry Cleaners

When looking for a registry cleaner, investigate your options thoroughly. There are a multitude of companies that claim to have the best registry cleaner and will back their claims up citing surveys or magazines. However, buyer beware applies here. If you read several reviews from different magazines and see three consistent registry cleaners at or near the top, you should investigate these further before deciding on your selection. A registry cleaner should do a variety of things including but not limited to the following:

  1. Provide a free scan of your computer
  2. Provide the ability to back up your computer creating a restore point in case of future corruptions
  3. Provide an automatic or manual repair of the registry for items detected during the scan
  4. Provide technical support if you are having a problem with the software or need assistance on how to use the product
  5. A full refund guarantee in the event you are not satisfied with the results. The length of time allowed to return the product should influence which product you choose.

Security Organizations

The following eight security organizations address a variety of topics such as incident response, technical standards, cyber international policies, information technology protections and critical infrastructure.

  • The Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center, created in 1988, to organize interaction among authorities during security crises and to help provide intelligence and communication for the prevention of attacks.
  • The Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams (FIRST) is an international organization whose goal is the prevention and response to both local and international security crises and the promotion of collective information.
  • Infraguard is dedicated to improving and sharing security information between private industries and the FBI when confronted by crises involving essential national infrastuctures.
  • The Information Systems Security Association is comprised of security professionals and consultants that provides research and education with regard to computer security.
  • The Computer Security Resource Center provides guidelines and technical assistance when security threats involve national security interests of the United States.
  • The National Security Institute (NSI) works to provide knowledge about security vulnerabilities and threats.
  • SANS is the most trusted and by far the largest source for information security training in the world
  • (ISC)²® is the global, not-for-profit, leader in educating and certifying information security professionals throughout their careers.



Students are encouraged to participate in cybersecurity competitions because the experiences gained will help advance their cybersecurity careers by building in-demand skills, learning collaboratively with others students while networking with employers.

Formulating cybersecurity competition teams or even becoming a member of such a team requires a dedication and commitment for the student.  First of all, a student does not need to be in the cybersecurity program but does need to possess a willingness to learn and commit significant time to the process.  Each member of a team depends upon other members performing as expected.  Due to such commitment, it is often difficult for a community college student to participate because of work and family obligations. There are no dormitories and meeting halls as there are in universities.   In addition, members may rotate out after two years vice four years at the university level.  Even so, the teams compete against institutions at all academic levels:  universities / 4-year colleges, community colleges, and high schools within and external to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The information below depicts highlights of various competitions of which the Laurel Ridge Community College cybersecurity competition teams have participated over the last five years.  Most of the Laurel Ridge participatory competitions (Radford RuSecure, VMI Cyber Fusion, NCL) are active on an annual basis as a minimum.

You can set up a team or join a team to participate and, if so required, that a faculty mentor needs to be associated with the team, please contact Darrell Andrews to get his approval on event participation.

Rules of Team/Member Competition

  1. You act respectfully and responsibly as a participant on this effort and to your team.  You follow the code of ethics unless the competition rules allow otherwise.
  2. The faculty mentor may advise as needed and as best the faculty mentor can but you and your team must find a faculty member who is willing to lead and direct the teams actions as a sponsor.  In addition, the faculty person must discuss and come to consensus with the faculty mentor so chosen before any registration ensues.  (Oh yes, the mentor and team director may be one and the same.)
  3. You and/or team provide updates to the mentor on progress based upon a mutually agreed upon schedule.
  4. All members of the team must demonstrate willingness and dedication to actively participate in all events of which the team has registered.
  5. The mentor, the college, and/or the faculty director have the right to disband the team or make notice of non-participation to all members at any time.
  6. The team and its members or an individual will be responsible for costs and logistics of traveling unless otherwise noted and approved by the college and faculty mentor and/or sponsor.

Highlights of Laurel Ridge Cybersecurity Teams in Action

Virginia Cyber Fusion Cup at Virginia Military Institute (VMI):

Virginia Cyber Fusion Cup is a cybersecurity CTF competition of selected invited Virginia universities and community colleges which is held at VMI each year during February. The annual event is  jointly sponsored by VMI and the Virginia Cyber Range.  This is normally a four hour on site competition at VMI.

Radford University RuSecure:

The RuSecure event for Spring 2020 proved to be a victim of the COVID 2019 pandemic in that the finals were canceled.  One of two Laurel Ridge team s made the finals after a tough preliminary round but unfortunately did not have the opportunity to continue into the final round.

Trevor Riley-Jewell and Matthew Cascio on their third-place finish in 2018 RU Secure cybersecurity competition at Radford University. They were one of two Laurel Ridge competing.

National Cyber League Cybersecurity Competition:

The National Cyber League site is at  This competition allows you to compete with other students to get ranked Nationally and demonstrate your skills to a perspective employer.   The competition is held online throughout the various seasons of the year.  The teams progress through various levels (pewter, bronze, silver and gold) with the top team receiving a monetary award.

The Laurel Ridge Cybersecurity team competed for the first time in 2019-2020 and was awarded the silver level.  The silver level and above are used for scouting reports for career positions from perspective employers. In the 2020-2021 cycle, the Laurel Ridge Cybersecurity competition team finished in 50th place out of 900+ participants across the world.

Abstracts of Other Cybersecurity Competitions

Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) site is at The mission of the competition is to provides a controlled, yet competitive environment for students to assess their understanding and operational competency in managing the challenges inherent in protecting a corporate network infrastructure and business information systems.

CyberFed as it is called can be located at   Again, if faculty sponsor is required, please contact Dr. Henry Coffman(Note: site seems to be marked by Asian fonts; checking on reasons.)

Cyber Cup is In support of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) outreach, the National Cyber Summit is hosting a 2 day cyber challenge. The competition will include teams of 2 competitors each with 3 qualifying rounds. Registration is open to middle and high school students, and as well as college and industry professionals. The Cup’s objective is to provide a competition environment testing competitors ability to work through increasingly challenging tasks.This competition will be for teams of 2 competitors each. During the registration process, you will identify which members are on your team. Find out the details at

Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition site is at This competition allow your Laurel Ridge team to defend a system against a Red Team of hackers determined to bring it down!

Black T-Shirt Cyber Forensics Challenge site is at

Student Resources

Some recommended reading resources include:

Students are also encouraged to obtain student memberships (at considerably discounted prices) to gain access to articles within the each organizations digital libraries from:

Security Resources and Awareness

Organization Affiliations

Various organizations support students in the cybersecurity programs either through specific cybersecurity focused organizations or related technology organizations.  Such organizations include the National CyberWatch sponsored “National Cybersecurity Student Association” and the International Technology Honor Society (Epsilon Pi Tau). Both organizations are described below in its own separate section.

National Cybersecurity Student Association

The National Cybersecurity Student Association is a one-stop-shop to enhance the educational and professional development of cybersecurity students through activities, networking and collaboration. This group supports the cybersecurity educational programs of academic institutions, inspires career awareness and encourages creative efforts to increase the number of graduates in the field.  More information can be found at .

International Technology Honor Society (EPT)

Epsilon Pi Tau (EPT) International Technology Honor Society

Epsilon Pi Tau (EPT) is the Leading International Honor Society for Technology.  Epsilon Pi Tau recognizes academic excellence of students in fields devoted to the study of technology and the preparation of practitioners for the technology professions. Students having a 3.5 grade point average and having completed least 30 semester credits are eligible to join. Epsilon Pi Tau also extends the honor of membership and advancement activities to outstanding practitioners in the technology professions, scholars with exemplary research interests in technology in society and/or persons who have significantly supported or advanced technology professions.

Epsilon Pi Tau is a certified member of the Association of College Honor societies.

The Delta Phi Chapter of Epsilon Pi Tau at Laurel Ridge strives to help each member:
• Reach for Excellence
• Career Advancement
• Enrich your Education
• Resume Building
• Perform Community Outreach
• Recognized for Achievements
• Build Professional Network

Leadership Opportunities: Employers look for signs of potential leadership characteristics during the interview process. Officer positions and the worthwhile projects carried out by the Delta Phi Chapter provide excellent opportunities for the acquisition of leadership experience and the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Benefits of joining: Two issues of the EPT newsletter The Preceptor, and two issues (in
one combined volume) of The Journal of Technology Studies (hard copy or online) annually. Members only access to the Epsilon Pi Tau web site, and eligibility to compete for the annual Warner Awards.

Faculty Advisors

Community Outreach

Laurel Ridge cybersecurity students visit Mountain View Christian Academy, a private K-12 school, to aid in awareness of general good security: passwords, use of internet and email appropriately, explaining http vs https, possible legal repercussion, shoulder surfing, screen savers, etc. When talking to older students the cybersecurity program at Laurel Ridge and the job market trends were also discussed.  Similar outreach programs have been done at various middle schools (Frederick, Page, Rappahannock, and Fauquier Counties) and high schools (James Wood, Handley, Sherando, Warren County, Skyline, Liberty, Page County/Luray) in the Laurel Ridge service regions.  Dr. Coffman stands next to the Luray High School mascot after a cybersecurity and computer science presentation by Drs. Coffman and Stange to the student body.

Recently, a  series of zoom sessions were held by a former student, Ms. Rachel Stange, in teaching cybersecurity principles to middle school students from various locations.   Ms. Stange included the techniques of binary numbers, cryptography and digital forensics into the content.  She used the Laurel Ridge Cyber Lab as the instructor platform for the distributed zoom sessions.

Laurel Ridge hosted a full-day of cyber security activities  for Winchester City Public School’s Cyber Camp participants. In the event, Dr. Henry Coffman lead activities such as Team Steganography and Forensics challenges, Virtual Machine installation & defenses, and National Day of Cyber activities. Dr. Coffman also hosted a half day camp for Luray/Page County Schools on similar subjects. Since that time several camps have been given at Laurel Ridge Middletown campus for Cyber Girls and Girls Scouts during the 2018-2019 time frames.


To promote cyber awareness, Dr. Coffman and Dr. Stange (Computer Science Program Lead) display flyers and program brochures at the Apple Blossom Mall in Winchester. Such materials provide details about the cybersecurity and computer science programs at Laurel Ridge and the interrelationships between both disciplines.


(Note: You may need to skip ads first in videos)

  1. October is Cyber Security Awareness Month (Humorous but to the point) – Video
  2. Safe Online for Kids and Teens – Video
  3. Kids and Teens Online Privacy – Video

Informative Links

Cybersecurity Faculty

The faculty resources (Full-Time and Adjunct) are a blend of experienced individuals from the fields of cybersecurity, computer science, and information technology. Cybersecurity touches all of these domains so it is imperative to include such a wide range of experiences in program development and instruction. Students become better prepared cyber warriors of tomorrow by learning through life examples of the faculty.

Full-Time Faculty

Laurel Ridge employs full-time faculty, all of whom possess many years of teaching and professional experiences along with a variety of professional certifications.

Dr. Jose’ Nieves

Dr. Jose Nieves as extensive public and private sector Information Technology experience. He served as a USAF officer for 5 years and several progressive senior technical and management positions with corporations in the Washington DC metropolitan area for over a decade. In addition to his Laurel Ridge teaching, Dr. Nieves has taught courses in security, forensics, project management, and information management at American Intercontinental University Online at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. At Capella University, Dr. Nieves consults on doctoral-level seminar courses in information systems management. Dr. Nieves is certified as a CIW Associate and as a VCCS Online Instructor. Email him at [email protected].

Fauquier Campus Vacant Position under Recruitment

Professor Brewer left the faculty staff after Spring 2020 semester to return to industry. A replacement hiring is underway. At times, finding a qualified replacement is not easy due to competitive salaries and industry needs. The full time faculty position is located at the Fauquier campus in Warrenton and hiring is continuing. The completion of this action is hopefully resolved in the near future.

Part-Time Faculty

Professor George Hurley (Mel)

George Hurley has more than 26 years’ experience in Information Technology (IT). He currently serves as Program Director for an IT consulting company. He has extensive experience as a scientist, architect, engineer and developer. He holds a MS in Information Assurance and BS in Information Technology from Capella University. Mr. Hurley is a Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) and Project Management Professional (PMP). He is affiliated with (ISC)2, ISACA, ACT-IAC. He served as Chair, Intel subcommittee, TechAmerica; Deputy Commissioner, CLOUD2 commission; and member, FEAv2 Security Reference Model Working Group. He is a member of Cyber Security Forum Initiative (CSFI), Red Team and InfraGard.

Dr. James Allen

Dr. James Allen currently works as Senior Security Architect and Authorizing Official for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington DC and a former Chief of Service Operations and Information Assurance at Defense Security Services.   He has industry experience in Information Technology (INFOSEC), hardware, and network engineering.  He is also a United States Navy Veteran of 23 years.  His role in the Navy was training and educating his fellow military sailors on technical and non-technical curricula. He possesses several certifications including CISSP, CCSP, and NSA INFOSEC.  In addition, he has received  numerous awards including:

  1. FBI Director’s Award for Excellent in Management
  2. Commander’s Award for Civilian Service
  3. Navy Achievement Medals (3)
  4. Navy Commendation Medals (3)
  5. Joint Service Civilian Achievement Medal

Dr. Allen has a Doctor of Science in Cybersecurity from Capitol Technology University. He teaches cybersecurity concentration courses in the cybersecurity program.

Mark SunderlinProfessor Mark Sunderlin

Mark Sunderlin has over 37 years in the government/industry field. He spent 16 years at the Internal Revenue Service as Chief of the LAN and Workstation Branch where he performed oversight of workstation and local area network activities including security audits. From there, he moved on to private industry where he was a Senior Technical Manager for AOL for 7 years and was then a Data Engineer for Verizon Media. Currently, he is a Principal Data Engineer for Yahoo. At Yahoo, he designs and oversees the creation of Big Data, Cloud, and Database services. His concentrated skills are in Databases, Linux operating systems, and Big Data. Mark earned a Masters of Science in Information Technology from George Washington University and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Shenandoah University. He has been an adjunct professor at Laurel Ridge Community College since 2012. Mark has recently received the Virginia Community College System George B. Vaughan Leadership Award for Outstanding Adjunct Faculty (Spring 2020) and the Laurel Ridge Community College Distinguished Adjunct Faculty Award (2020).

Jason Pell

Jason Pell works in the Northern Virginia area as a Cybersecurity Systems Engineer. He has performed years of service as a Cyber Analyst and Incident Responder for organizations such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, the United States Army, and the United States Marine Corps. He possesses years of industry experience in network intrusion detection analysis, network engineering and quality assurance, network vulnerability assessment, and digital forensics. Jason earned a Master of Science in Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigations and a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity from the University of Maryland Global Campus. He currently holds the SANS GCIA, GCIH, and GCFE certifications.

Program Support Staff

In addition to faculty, the Cybersecurity program is supported by and administration and advising staff as listed below.

Administrative Support

Major administrative support is provided by a Dean, Dr. Craig Santicola, and his administrative assistant, Ms. Emma Hott.

Dr. Craig Santicola, Dean of Professional Programs, provides overall program support in initiatives, resource requirements, and external communication to the Executive levels (President, Provost, Vice Presidents) and the VCCS Offices in Richmond. He also provides sponsorships for accreditation and conferences activities.

Emma Hott provides crucial support in program and course scheduling, in program changes, travel, training and conference registrations, although she may acquire assistance on processing such items from other assistants.

Advising Support

The college has several advisors which can be viewed on the advisor web page. Please note that the list represent advisors who provide assistance to specific populations and are not necessarily dedicated to the cybersecurity or technology programs as the primary target(s).

In the News

Laurel Ridge’s associate of applied science cybersecurity degree program is one of the first in the world and one of just two community college programs to receive accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Computing Accreditation Commission (CAC). 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.

Epsilon Pi Tau (EPT) Induction Ceremony:  in March 2020, student from various technology backgrounds (e.g., cybersecurity, computer science, information systems technology) were inducted through a virtual ceremony into EPT.

Students in the News

Cybersecurity Student Gets the Outstanding Student at Middletown Campus Award

Laurel Ridge Outstanding Student at the Middletown Campus is a Cybersecurity program student and graduate.  The student competed with several thousand students to receive the award.  Unfortunately the name cannot be divulge at this time so as to maintain a somewhat perception of a surprise but will be divulge around May 15.

In other student news, Alexia Maynard, and DJ Joachim, both cybersecurity majors hit the news circuit lately. Alexia graduated in May 2020 as the Cybersecurity Student of the Year while DJ Joachim  will complete the degree within the coming academic year.  In addition, DJ is the Team Captain for the Laurel Ridge Cybersecurity Competition Team.

Cybersecurity News Around the Globe

Many events and articles indicated the importance of cybersecurity in the government, academics and industry.  Below provides some examples of news worthy actions occurring in the environment.

Federal Cybersecurity in a Changing World

MeriTalk is a research resource that reviews actions primarily within the Federal Government.  MeriTalk’s latest research examines the current state of Federal cybersecurity in today’s “maximized telework” environment. The report shows that while 84% of Federal IT managers agree cybersecurity is a top or high priority within their agency, just 51% rate the state of cybersecurity within their agency as “very effective”. The pdf version is available at .

Rappahannock News: Cyber Security at Page County

Page County discusses the benefits of a new center being built of which will educate students in the cybersecurity discipline.  Article is available at  .

Archived News Events

Presentations: Dr. Coffman and Dr. Stange presented “Energize Student Resumes with Non-Traditional Approaches” at the First Annual Virginia Cybersecurity Education Conference hosted by the Virginia Cyber Range, on August 14-15, 2018 at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and, again, at the 2018 New Horizons Conference April 2018, in which they discussed five primary ways to better prepare Cybersecurity and Computer Science students outside the classroom. The ways presented were (1) participation in individual and team competitions, (2) summer internships, (3) real course projects, (4) clubs, and (5) community service. Hear first-hand from students, faculty, and partners on this approach energizes a student’s resume.

NCWIT Award Finalist: Laurel Ridge cybersecurity student Amy Buchanan is the first Virginia Community College Student in the nation to be named a finalist for the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing Awards. Read more about this achievement HERE.

Helping Students: Dr. Coffman and Laurel Ridge Cybersecurity Students help a dual-enrolled student get her Girl Scout Gold Award, recognition from the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), and headed down the Cybersecurity pathway. Read more HERE.

GMU Transfer Announcement:  George Mason University links Laurel Ridge’s Associates of Applied Science in Cybersecurity to their Bachelor of Applied Science in Cybersecurity Degree. Read more at

WHAG TV Interview (Now WDVM): WHAG interviews Cybersecurity Student Trevor Riley-Jewel and Program Lead Dr. Coffman about the conclusion of the first year of the A.A.S. in Cybersecurity program. Watch the interview and read more at:

Cyber Fusion Competition Award Ceremony:  Dr. Henry Coffman and Dr. Melissa Stange represented Laurel Ridge at the first Cyber Fusion competition awards ceremony at the Executive Manson in Richmond on Friday, April 14th [2017]. Pictured below (left to right) is Karen Jackson, Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth, Dr. Coffman, and Governor Terry Mcauliffe. More photos can be seen at

Additional News Bulletins:

Advisory Board

Industry Advisors

Industry & K-12 Adjunct Faculty

  • Dr. James AllenFBI (Winchester/Frederick County)
  • Mark SunderlinYahoo, (Middletown)

K-12 & 4-year Partners

  • Krystal M. Dains, BAS Academic Program Coordinator – GMU
  • Mary Beth Echeverria, Frederick County Public Schools
  • Dr. Jessica O’ShaughnessySU
  • Dr. David RaymondVirginia Cyber Range & VT
  • Dr. Henry Coffman, Sr., Cybersecurity Engineering Faculty – GMU

Students & Alumni Representatives

  • DJ Joachim, Alumnus
  • Emily Dick, Alumnus
  • Robert Wallace, Student


To learn more, please email us at [email protected].

Below are links to three key organizations for cybersecurity. Click on their logo to be redirect to their websites.

National Security Agency seal

National Cyberwatch Center logo

Department of Homeland Security seal

ec-council partnerOur partnership offers cost-effective, authorized learning resources for enrolled technology students to properly prepare them for EC-Council exams and ultimately their careers after graduation. Students will have the opportunity to achieve industry recognized certifications and compete in free cyber competitions as they complete their degree programs, achieving the ultimate stackable credential lineup to enhance their resume.