Pinckney Community Schools in Pinckney, MI are the first district in the nation to create a cyber defense education program.

The Pinckney Cyber Training Institute and Sentinel Center opened on Dec. 7 and will provide educational and certification opportunities for high school and college students, as well as tech professionals.

“The development of the Pinckney Cyber Training Institute is just one way we’re dedicating resources to educating people in cyber defense and subsequently protecting our citizens, infrastructure and economy,” said Steve Arwood, CEO of the MEDC. “From smart phones to connected and automated vehicles, our world is relying more and more on advanced technologies and these initiatives are developing the talent and skills needed to prevent cyber attacks.”

The institute will serve as a hub for the Michigan Cyber Range, which has centers across the state. Created and managed by the nonprofit, member-owned Merit Network, the Michigan Cyber Range hones security software and the cyber defense skills of professionals through classes and exercises. It also enables product development and testing for clients and has working relationships with multiple entities, including the MEDC and the Michigan National Guard.

Students and professionals who enroll in the institute will be able to take cybersecurity courses, earn state-approved certifications and engage in cybersecurity training exercises. While each Michigan Cyber Range hub offers 22 professional certifications, the institute is the first hub to be located at a high school, allow students to earn college credits and provide access to early internship opportunities.

“Qualified cyber security professionals are quickly becoming some of the most sought after people in the tech sector,” Arwood said. “From private industry to military and all levels of government, the demand for candidates who are certified means creating new and expanding educational opportunities like those offered at Pinckney schools help to ensure that Michigan is producing top talent.”