Training Tomorrow’s Workforce TodayInnovative programs feeding Miami’s growing needs in high-tech talent

Male and female student in front of green screen with motion capture technology

We’ve heard it before, but this time it’s real: Big Tech is coming to Miami. Buckle up. Miami Dade College – a longtime leader in training tomorrow’s workforce today – is racing to the top of the talent pipeline. Cybersecurity? Check. Cloud computing? Check. Data analytics? Check. MDC is a one-stop shop for employers and students alike.

It’s a match made in heaven – if heaven is made of computer chips, virtual reality goggles and state-of-the-art Cyber ranges, that is.

“Affordability, innovation and reach are the cornerstones of the College, and with Miami’s growing tech scene, no institution is better poised to deliver the talent required for this new workforce,” said MDC President Madeline Pumariega.

Miami is on the upswing, to be sure. The city has been thrust into the spotlight due to an unprecedented boom in tech, startup ventures and capital investment. Dozens of new and established companies are moving to the city, some bringing great-paying jobs along. And MDC is ahead of the curve – it’s been collaborating with industry leaders and aligning programs to their needs, ensuring they have a job-ready workforce.

The College’s accelerated response – rapid credentials, in-demand tech degrees, digital badges – is suited both for people taking their first steps into tech, as well as for seasoned professionals looking to reskill or upskill.

Is it working? Consider this: some students are getting hired even before they graduate.

“We’re rewiring the labor market to not just provide students with the skills that employers need, but also to ensure that when they graduate, they’re already on the path to economic mobility,” said Antonio Delgado, dean of MDC’s School of Engineering and Technology (EnTec).

EnTec is an active partner with industry in the development of new coursework and the creation of opportunities in the emerging fields of cybersecurity, electric vehicles, cloud computing, data analytics and programming, animation and gaming, and artificial intelligence. These partners provide the technical expertise, equipment, mentorships, internships and jobs, making MDC the most affordable and logical first choice in tech education.

Companies including Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, IBM and Tesla have sought out the College for partnerships to develop tailored programs and centers to teach the tech skills they need to enhance their workforce.

MDC also offers a catalog of online workforce development courses to help individuals, especially those left without a job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, acquire new skills and certifications for in-demand jobs.

MDC has developed over 50 new or revamped degrees and embedded over 30 industry certifications into tech-related courses for these sought-after skills.

Over 5,000 students across the College’s eight campuses are currently enrolled in associate, bachelor’s or college credit certificate courses offered through these programs:

Cybersecurity Center of the Americas

In a digital world, cyberattacks have become a reality for everyone, and MDC’s Cybersecurity Center of the Americas offers the latest hands-on training through its Cyberbit Range. Students, professionals and entire security teams have taken advantage of the center’s dynamic, real-world cyberattack simulations to earn certificates or degrees. From 2020 to 2021, the Center’s enrollment increased 120%. MDC also launched a Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity this spring.

The Center offers digital badges representing certification of training to thwart various types of website, web server and IP network attacks.

“The material was challenging and spot on when it came to our preparedness for a real, live attack,” said Simon Pierre, an IT security professional and one of the first recipients of MDC’s Apache Shutdown and Web Defacement digital badges. “Aside from the knowledge, the tools we had access to and were able to get familiar with, were phenomenal.”

Electric Vehicle Training Center

Electric vehicles are here, and more are planned from almost every major car manufacturer. The demand for technicians is growing. MDC’s Electric Vehicle Training Center aims to fill that need. Its 15-week Tesla Start program hosts a facility fully equipped with Tesla vehicles and equipment and built to Tesla specifications, as the only comprehensive program of its kind in the Southeast. All of the program’s graduates have been hired by Tesla.

Cloud Computing Center

The Cloud Computing Center takes a proactive approach to tech instruction, offering summer camps for dual-enrollment high school students and through partnerships with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Azure and Google Cloud, among others. Over 150 MDC students have earned certifications from AWS or Azure, and over 200 more students have learned cloud skills during the pandemic.

Data Analytics and Programming

The need for professionals skilled in identifying, analyzing, interpreting and presenting the volumes of data that are critical to the success of organizations is growing at a rapid rate. MDC recently ranked second in the nation for having the most affordable bachelor’s degree in data science in 2021. Students are often hired even before completing the program, and land jobs at Baptist Hospital, Assurant, NextEra and Jackson Health System, among others. Partnerships with Google and Oracle also offer various programming courses at no cost for students.

A new MDC partnership with SoftBank and Correlation One, the “Data Science 4 All” initiative, aims to train 10,000 people from underrepresented communities.

Miami Animation & Gaming International Complex (MAGIC)

MAGIC’s 9,000-sq.-ft., state-of-the-art facility is a working animation studio where students work on video game and animation projects using industry tools and techniques. Student animations are often broadcast in national and international markets on Univision, Nickelodeon and Telemundo. They also gain hands-on experience in augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).

MDC’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Center

Scheduled for launch in the fall, MDC’s upcoming Artificial Intelligence (AI) Center will build on existing AI curriculum and offer new courses created in partnership with Microsoft and IBM.

Ready to Make Their Mark

Beyond the classroom, MDC students also prove their worth at competitions that showcase their talent. At the recent National Cyber League Spring 2021 Team Game competition, an MDC team placed in the top 2% of 922 competing teams. With student Jawary Prieto at the helm, the seven-person team competed in

various challenges including cryptography, network traffic analysis and password cracking, among others.

“Our team of talented, multicultural individuals from all paths of life demonstrated their incredible potential with a serious commitment to this competition,” Prieto said. “My training at MDC has been outstanding.”

– AF