Coming soon to local high school classrooms: Learning the basics of cybersecurity - measures to protect electronic data from unauthorized access and abuse.
"We're trying to figure out how to get them started younger and quicker," said Pikes Peak Community College spokeswoman Karen Kovaly.
The Colorado Springs school has received a grant for nearly $200,000 that will enable it to expand cybersecurity education and create new partnerships with area high schools and high-profile cyber firms, she said.
"This grant will take our cyber efforts, which had already been gaining momentum, and really throw them into hyper speed to feed the local workforce," PPCC President Lance Bolton said in a statement.
The $199,681 grant from the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education was one of five given nationwide to institutions with the ability to drive the growth of cybersecurity in local economies.
Colorado Springs has been pegged as a hotbed of cybersecurity development, including a new National Cybersecurity Center that's being built using public and private funding.
But there aren't enough trained workers for the rapidly expanding industry, Kovaly said, which has led PPCC to step up its efforts.
PPCC this month will begin offering two fast-tracked preparation courses for an industry-standard exam to enter the field, on top of a cybersecurity certificate as part of its Computer Networking Technology associate degree.
The new grant will help reach the younger generation with programs in Colorado Springs School District 11, Widefield School District 3 and Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8.
PPCC intends to provide students with summer jobs and registered apprenticeships in the industry, Kovaly said.
Two local companies that have become nationally prominent cybersecurity firms, root9B and Boecore, will work with the college to deliver the programs for high school students.
Jobs such as security specialist, security consultant, security administrator, systems administrator and network administration have a starting pay range of $70,000 to $84,000, according to Kovaly.
Such positions are available with government contractors, insurance companies, medical businesses, hardware and software firms and corporate cybersecurity companies.