IT Pathway prepares students for unpredictable future

Four LCCC IT Pathway students standing in a computer labLaramie County Community College is at the forefront of equipping students with in-demand skills and paving the way for thriving careers in the rapidly-advancing information technology sector.

With recent developments in artificial intelligence, including the launch of ChatGPT — an advanced language model developed by OpenAI that uses artificial intelligence to generate human-like responses and engage in conversational interactions — it’s hard to say where technology is going in the coming years, said Troy Amick, LCCC’s Information Technology program director. But it’s clear to Amick that humans will be behind the advancements.

“No matter how good your AI is, it can’t go design and install an entire network system,” he said. “It can’t do maintenance on a server rack.”

As technology continues to shape our world in unpredictable ways, LCCC remains dedicated to preparing students for the future by offering comprehensive programs in the Information Technology Pathway.

Succeeding in IT, Amick said, isn’t necessarily all about having technical know-how. Students who have the drive to solve problems are the ones he sees finding success.

“That’s a huge function of IT, where you’re given a challenge and you have to figure out how to put multiple different things together and make it work right,” Amick said. “There’s something pretty awesome about when something is broken, and everybody says it can’t be fixed, and then you’re the one who comes in and figures it out. That’s the enthusiasm and passion that drives it.”

The pitch for prospective IT Pathway students is often that they can change their lives by finding a new career with the training offered at LCCC. That’s an easy sell for Amick because he made a career change to IT after years in retail store management. He obtained a bachelor’s in IT and later a master’s in IT management from Western Governors University, and worked a few jobs after graduating. Before long, he was offered the opportunity in LCCC’s IT program, and Amick said he wanted to help others change their lives with IT training.

“My favorite part of being a manager was always training and watching other people grow in their careers,” he said. “This struck me as a position where I’d get the opportunity to guide technology training in all of Wyoming.”

There are eight programs in the IT Pathway. A Pathway is a set of related programs grouped to allow for exploration in multiple areas with a low risk of wasting credits or semesters. So, if students start one program in the IT Pathway and decide it's not for them, they can switch to another program and stay on track to graduate on time.

Most programs in the IT Pathway offer credit diplomas, while some offer associate of applied science degrees. Students can also earn industry certifications along the way. The advantage is that jobs are available for those who complete programs at LCCC, but the opportunity to continue growing and advancing a career is always available in IT. Some students move on to different schools, while some return to LCCC to pursue other programs in the IT Pathway, where the entire program is built on stackable credentialing.

“You’re able to step away quickly at any point to change your life through employment, and you can come back and change your life further through development,” Amick said.

Recently, students in the IT Pathway demonstrated their cyber security prowess by placing in the top ranks in the highly competitive iCyberbit ICL Collegiate Cup Tournament Spring Edition, a tournament that put LCCC up against teams from top universities around the world.

Four students — Josh Stephenson, Nathaniel Johnson, Jordan Watson and Gary "Tison" Magee — finished seventh in the final round out of 86 teams and 20 finalists.

Amick said he couldn’t be prouder of what LCCC’s students accomplished in the competition.

“It was our first outing, and they stepped up and demonstrated exactly how robust their education has been,” he said. “Those students are going to go out into this industry and be absolute rock stars.” 

For Stephenson, a 36-year-old sophomore in the IT Pathway, the tournament performance was a clear indicator of the program’s effectiveness.

“I think our success shows that you don't need to go to a big-name, four-year school to get a great education and learn valuable skills,” he said. “It also shows the level of talent that is attracted to the program, we have some amazing students in our pathway who are willing and able to learn the valuable skills offered. Finally, it shows that we have the cream of the crop when it comes to instructors, we wouldn't have been able to do this without their leadership and passion to pass their knowledge on to students like us.”

For more information about LCCC’s IT Pathway, go to lccc.wy.edu/infoTech, email itpathFREELARAMIE or call 307.778.1152.