Alyssa Van Duyse Chippewa Valley Technical College
Sometimes the words Logan Severson uses to describe his day-to-day duties as a cybersecurity analyst are foreign to many. But thankfully, Severson knows exactly what he’s talking about.
The 22-year-old from Menomonie is keeping Menards, his employer, safe one digital interaction at a time.
It’s a big job, but somebody’s got to do it.
Severson, who graduated from the IT-Network Specialist program at Chippewa Valley Technical College, said businesses are better understanding the value of having someone on board who is trained in cybersecurity.
But Severson wasn’t always sure where his IT path would lead.
“When I started at CVTC, I went for networking because of a web development class I took in high school,” he said. “That sparked my interest.”
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He didn’t know his interest would lead him to cybersecurity until the end of his first year, when his instructors started introducing students to the environment of hackers.
“We would set up different lab environments — things that you would see in natural industry,” he said. “I felt more confident that I could protect myself and others as I became more educated.”
Josh Huhmann, IT-Network Specialist instructor, said cybersecurity is a component of IT programs at the College, but because students entering the program have a wide range of knowledge, classes start off with the basics.
“Logan (Severson) has a job where security is his focus,” Huhmann said. “But not a lot of companies have dedicated cybersecurity employees. Unfortunately, every company is at risk for security incidents.”
Severson said he feels lucky to have the position at Menards. His employer is lucky, too, because Severson said he’s well trained.
“CVTC taught me to stay one step ahead, and we did that through the lab environments,” he said. “Our instructors pushed us to our limits. You have to learn quickly and adapt.
“A lot of news stories talk about the recent vulnerabilities, how to fix them and why it’s important to patch your systems.”
Severson and Huhmann agree that it’s a growing field and one where analysts have to be on the top of their game 24/7.
“Because it’s an emerging field and more people are starting to get interested, we’re starting to see colleges tailor their degrees,” Severson said.
The College became a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense in January and added an IT Cybersecurity Analyst advanced technical certificate, which is set to start in January 2023. The advanced technical certificate is geared towards people working as network specialists who want to advance their. skills.
Severson already has much of the skillset because Huhmann incorporates aspects of cybersecurity into his curriculum throughout the IT Network Specialist program.
Huhmann applauds Severson for his hard work and dedication to the field.
“(Severson) was the type of student who didn’t just want to pass the class. He wanted to challenge the difficult scenarios,” Huhmann said. “He enjoyed learning IT and security, and he took it beyond class.
“IT is a career that continues to grow. Security just by proxy has continued to grow with it. We continue to encourage the development of students who have a security mindset.”