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Four students in blue polo shirts and khaki pants stand outside a building that says Hope Mills on it.

FTCC IT students, from left to right, Noah Dudley, Travis Smith, Damon Hall, and Charlotte Fisk presented a cybersecurity assessment initiative to the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners on May 6, 2024.

Fayetteville Technical Community College Information Technology students Noah Dudley, Charlotte Fisk, Damon Hall, and Travis Smith showcased their expertise in cybersecurity during a presentation to the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners on Monday.

The board, including Mayor Jessie Bellflowers and Mayor Pro Tem Dr. Kenjuana McCray, welcomed the students, who are part of a pioneering collaboration between the Carolina Cyber Network (CCN) Governance & Military Sector and the Mid-Carolina Council of Government (MCCOG).

In this new initiative, students receive compensation through a CCN grant while partnering with MCCOG to provide cyber assessments to local municipalities. Impressed by the students’ demonstration at the CCN Spring Convening hosted at FTCC, Mayor Bellflowers and Mayor Pro Tem McCray extended an invitation for them to present to the board.

During the presentation, the students highlighted crucial cybersecurity principles, including robust password protection. Board members, citing their own encounters with email and cell phone phishing attacks, underscored the urgency of cybersecurity measures. The students listened to their concerns and pledged to address such threats through their assessments, offering training materials and workshops.

A student stands at a podium facing a long desk with board members sitting behind it.

FTCC IT students presented a cybersecurity assessment initiative to the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners on May 6, 2024.

Following the presentation, the board unanimously resolved to engage the student team’s services and tasked the town manager with facilitating opportunities for the students to commence assessments using state-of-the-art tools provided by the CCN.

Currently, 10 FTCC students are actively involved in the partnership with MCCOG. In addition to facilitating connections with local municipalities, MCCOG has extended an invitation for the students to conduct an assessment of its organization. This innovative collaboration not only equips students with hands-on, community-based experience but also fosters the development of essential “soft” skills vital for success in any industry.

The CCN anticipates that such local connections will serve as a model for similar endeavors statewide, empowering students to apply their skills to strengthen North Carolina’s cyber ecosystem.