Reprint from UA News, Nov. 20, 2020
Written by Kyle Mittan, University Communications
The University of Arizona is one of only three universities selected to be part of a pilot program in partnership with the United States Naval Community College to offer online courses to enlisted military members.
In the spring, 150 sailors, marines and coast guardsmen will enroll in the intelligence and applied computing programs in the UArizona College of Applied Science and Technology in Sierra Vista, Arizona. The courses will be offered entirely online via Arizona Online.
The United States Naval Community College offers enlisted members of the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard professional certificates and associate degrees to better prepare and support them in their military careers. The college is a division of Marine Corps University, the professional military education system of the U.S. Marine Corps.
"The partnership with the University of Arizona and the United States Naval Community College speaks to the university commitment to serve our service members across the globe," said Cody Nicholls, UArizona assistant dean of students for military and veteran engagement. "Being invited to participate in the pilot program with the United States Navy is a testimony to the quality of our academic programs, Arizona Online, and of our reputation to serve our enlisted service members."
The U.S. Naval Community College is a consortium, meaning it partners with other institutions to bring its programs to enlisted students. UArizona was among three university systems and two community colleges to be selected for the pilot program, which will serve nearly 600 enlisted service members total. The other institutions were Alexandra Technical and Community College in Minnesota, the State University of New York, the University of Maryland Global Campus and Virginia's Community Colleges.
The University of Arizona was selected for the coursework in two programs, the Bachelor of Applied Science in Intelligence and Information Operations and the Bachelor of Applied Science in Applied Computing.
The 150 students who enroll in the spring will choose from four classes, split across two tracks. The first track, which includes a statistics course and an intelligence analysis course, is aimed at teaching students how to transform data into information that can be used for operational decision-making at various levels of responsibility.
The second track takes students through a different statistics course as well as a computational thinking and analysis course. Students in this track will learn how to use statistics and basic computer science and scripting languages to work through large datasets to solve complex informational problems.
"This partnership shows the essential role that our online courses and programs play in the growth of the University of Arizona. This is the type of modality that organizations as large and diverse as the Navy are looking for," said Kara Aquilano Forney, executive director for corporate initiatives and business development for Arizona Online, whose team helped establish the partnership.
The partnership with the U.S. Naval Community College, Forney added, was a group effort that required strong collaboration between teams at Arizona Online, Veterans Affairs, the Dean of Students Office and the College of Applied Science and Technology.
The College of Applied Science and Technology has quickly become renowned for its programs related to cybersecurity, thanks in part to its proximity to the U.S. Army installation at Fort Huachuca. The college's cyber operations program was designated a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations by the National Security Agency in 2018. At the time, the program had existed for less than two years.
A year later, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency designated the college's intelligence studies emphasis of the applied science degree program as an Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence. The designation came with $1.5 million that allowed the degree emphasis to become a full-fledged program – the country's first Bachelor of Applied Science in intelligence and information operations.
"The College of Applied Science and Technology is thrilled to partner with the U.S. Naval Community College to bring quality intelligence and data analysis education to sailors, marines and coast guardsmen to advance their careers and improve their effectiveness," said Gary Packard, dean of the college. "Participation in this exciting pilot program is a testament to the quality of the CAST team and the college’s commitment to future focused, career-ready education in support of the University of Arizona’s land-grant mission."