St. John Fisher University Joins Cisco Network Academy

February 8, 2023

St. John Fisher University has joined a worldwide network of over 11,800 academies by becoming a Cisco Networking Academy (NetAcad), an effort that is part of the re-imagining of Fisher’s cybersecurity degree. Cisco is the world’s largest multinational, American-based digital communications corporation; the Networking Academy falls under their social responsibility initiatives.

Cisco holds a position on the Fortune 100, and boasts an annual revenue north of $50 billion. They provide a range of products and services to their customers, including routers, telecommunications equipment, wireless network and security solutions, and database management software.

One of their most prominent products is the Cisco NetAcad program. The Academy was founded in 1997 after Cisco discovered donations of their products to local schools were going unused due to a lack of technical education.

Cisco NetAcad offers a variety of content to help students develop their skills and reach their goals. Some of the most important features include a free curriculum of online courses developed by industry professionals in several areas, including networking, programming, cybersecurity, and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. Fisher students will have access to these courses, along with a wealth of resources designed to enhance the learning experience. Students will receive automated, performance-based feedback as they progress through online courses and have access to a proprietary Cisco network simulator where they can safely explore new and exciting concepts. Cisco NetAcads are provided with software to test students’ knowledge and develop a full understanding of various information technologies.

The ultimate goal of Cisco NetAcad is to create global problem solvers and “T-shaped professionals” - an individual with deep knowledge of their specialization, whether that be cybersecurity, programming, or another discipline. They also possess the ability to collaborate across disciplines, and are able to translate and apply their knowledge to areas of expertise outside of their own.

Students progressing through the online courses earn digital badges to mark their progress, while preparing them for industry-recognized certification tests. The program also provides access to Cisco-sponsored competitions and hack-a-thon events where students can pit themselves against peers to evaluate their skills. While all cybersecurity students will engage with the NetAcad, it will also benefit students in other degrees on campus, such as computer science.

One of the most exciting aspects of NetAcad is their job board, Talent Bridge, where Fisher students will have the opportunity to connect and network with future employers both from Cisco and partnered employers. Talent Bridge contains a component of automation, matching employer needs to qualified candidates. Rather than thumbing through thousands of résumés, Talent Bridge allows employers to quickly find qualified candidates with Cisco skills in both entry- and higher-level positions.

But why Cisco? According to Professor and Director of the Fisher’s Cybersecurity Program Chuck Harrington, in a market flooded with competitors, Cisco has a few advantages including the NetAcad’s long history and massive number of active users.

“Fisher students will join with more than 17 million users through the Cisco Networking Academy,” he said. “As one of the world’s longest-running and largest cybersecurity and IT education programs, NetAcad offers some exciting resources for both students and faculty to continue expanding into the cybersecurity realm.”

This article was written by Tyler Cole ’23, a cybersecurity major and PR Writing Intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications.