INDIANAPOLIS — A group of Indiana National Guard soldiers are among one of the first graduating classes at Ivy Tech’s Cyber Academy at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Jackson County.
One of them has turned the training into a promising career.
Two years into his bachelor’s degree, James Gill, felt like many students — discouraged and unsatisfied.
Gill, an information technician specialist with Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 150th Field Artillery Regiment in Bloomington, was pursuing an IT degree at Northern Kentucky University while serving in the National Guard and working part-time at a local superstore.
Gill sought to work full-time with the first IT job he could find. However, before he could drop out and find a new job, Gill’s readiness sergeant presented him with an opportunity to attend a cybersecurity program at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center.
“I’ve always been interested in computers and technology. So I decided pretty early on that that was going to be my career focus,” said Gill. “As soon as I got into the Cyber Academy, by day three, we were doing hands-on computer building and I was like, ‘Well, this is what I want to do.’”
Gill enjoyed the 11-month program during which he attended the National Cyber League, a nationwide competition focused on ethical hacking. Gill and his classmates also participated in a statewide competition, held at the Ivy Tech main campus in Indianapolis, where FBI and National Security Agency representatives watched the participants compete.
After graduating from the 11-month, hands-on program, Gill landed a job working for the Department of Financial Services through the network he had built at the Cyber Academy.
In less than a year, Gill went from earning $11.50 per hour to making more than $60,000 per year in his dream career field, he said. While Gill lived with his parents during his time in college, he now enjoys his own apartment in Fishers.
“It’s really fulfilling to know that I did it pretty much on my own,” said Gill. “The Guard paid for the vast majority of the school with federal tuition assistance, the GI Bill and stuff so I am pretty much debt-free. There’s nothing like it.”