The stakes are high at Collegiate Cyber Defense Competitions (CCDC), where top-notch security professionals pose as computer hackers, who try to break into simulated business computer networks — the kinds you’d find on Wall Street, in banks, hospitals, or even your home. As the “bad guys” try to compromise computer systems, teams of students have to think like hackers, and compete against each other to keep the attackers out. It’s a great way for students to be noticed by potential employers, and it’s a great practice to experience what students are learning in class at the Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance (CSSIA) at Moraine Valley Community College, outside Chicago. “Cybersecurity provides a great career path. There are thousands of different types of jobs out there,” says Erich Spengler, CSSIA director. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), CSSIA has become a national leader in cybersecurity education. The Center provides hands-on complex laboratory exercises and real-world learning experiences. In fact, some of the students are actually educators themselves. Since 2004, CSSIA has instructed more than 2,000 teachers and college faculty in cybersecurity-related areas.