MAYS LANDING — Construction is underway on the new Innovation Center at Atlantic Cape Community College, which will offer esports and cybersecurity programs in a state-of-the-art facility on the Mays Landing campus in the fall.
The Innovation Center will replace the existing Boyer Hall, one of the oldest buildings at the college, constructed in 1967. Funding for the project was provided through a $4 million New Jersey’s Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act grant and $1.33 million from Atlantic County.
“Atlantic Cape Community College will transform a dated facility into a state-of-the-art building for instruction in the fast-growing industries of esports and cybersecurity, positioning Atlantic Cape as the region’s leading resource for esports and cybersecurity career advancement,” said Dr. Josette Katz, senior vice president of academics at Atlantic Cape. “Our students will have a significant advantage in two of the most in-demand fields currently.”
The esports industry complements the region’s largest industry, hospitality/casinos, and the Atlantic County Economic Alliance has highlighted its significant growth potential. In addition, cybersecurity is one of the nation’s highest in-demand fields, including in New Jersey, and the Atlantic County cohort of the South Jersey STEM & Innovation Partnership has emphasized the need for Career and Technical Education training capacity for cybersecurity.
Professor Otto Hernandez is developing the esports and cybersecurity technical programming, working with Associate Professor Karl Giulian, who is developing business programming specifically related to esports.
“Employers are looking to fill cybersecurity positions everywhere in the world. Students trained in this field can work for private companies, they can work for the government; any place that has computer systems with data that needs to be protected has a demand for cybersecurity professionals,” Hernandez said.
“Esports a multi-billion-dollar industry that is taking off like gangbusters. Businesses and institutions will have tournaments and leagues – which is going to mean facilities and employees and marketing. Our students will be on the ground floor,” Giulian said. “If you want to be in a dynamic growing industry, this is it.”
And both fields offer significant earning potential, the professors noted.
In the fall, Atlantic Cape students that enroll in these programs can learn how to create computer games, obtain business skills for success in the esports industry, learn information technology skills focused on computer forensics, and more.
Under the renovations, Boyer Hall will be reconfigured with an esports lounge and new computer labs, Richards Hall with new classrooms, and Morse Hall with faculty offices. The buildings will become a smart hub for a forward-thinking, technology-laden curriculum.
Specifically, students will be able to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Programming with a Game Design and Development option. Students working toward an Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration can add an Esports option to their degree.
Or students can select a cybersecurity option for an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Systems Support. After their coursework, students who chose the Cybersecurity option will be able to sit for industry certifications including CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Linux+, TestOut Ethical Hacker Pro, and CompTIA SySA+.
Hernandez said that there are also plans for an esports club in the future.
In addition to the Innovation Center, Atlantic Cape is also currently in the midst of constructing a Wind Training Center at the Worthington Atlantic City campus.
The 1,700-square-foot addition is funded through a nearly $3 million New Jersey Offshore Wind Safety Training Challenge grant, awarded to the college in July 2021 and administered by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education with the support of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
The Wind Training Center will house an industry-recognized Global Wind Organization safety training program and facility to prepare New Jersey workers for jobs in the state’s growing offshore wind industry, as well as establishing a Sea Survival module at Gardner’s Basin.
The college’s GWO-certified partners are Arcon Training Center, AIS Training and 3t Energy Group.
The Wind Training Center is also expected to open in Fall 2022.
To learn more about these programs, visit atlantic.edu.