At least once a year, a student will ask Keith Nabozny why he didn’t remain in the corporate sector, where salaries are high and his career was as secure as the networks he was responsible for safeguarding.
“Because I love this job,” he muses after the fact. “I love being able to share my cybersecurity experience with students and the autonomy that allows me to continually refine my teaching to make it better.”
Nabozny’s previous career spanned 25 years, but it wasn’t his first choice. With a bachelor’s degree in finance from Oakland University, he thought he would follow a path to international banking. His first job at the former National Bank of Detroit (NBD), however, pointed him in a different direction.
“I found that I had this interest in IT. NBD’s network administrator told me ‘You’re really good at it, you should go into it,’” relates Nabozny. “He encouraged me to get certified in Novell. I studied on my own and paid for my own certification exam.”
From there, Nabozny continued to seek out IT training, primarily from New Horizons Computer Learning Centers. He eventually became NBD’s local area network administrator for the capital markets divisions. It took a job offer from Electronic Data Systems (EDS) to convince him to leave banking altogether. He was assigned to the General Motors account, and worked out of an office located at its Technical Center in Warren. He stayed with EDS through its acquisition by Hewlett-Packard and has also worked in the IT departments of a few other companies, including Dow Chemical. He started teaching at Macomb part-time in 2010, accepting a full-time position in 2011 after being encouraged to apply for it by both the associate dean and his wife Carol Lynn.
“I saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” relates Nabozny. “I knew I had something to contribute.”
Because of his extensive background in the field, Nabozny took the lead on Macomb’s Network Security Professional (cybersecurity) program. He developed and taught the courses, always keeping his finger on the pulse of the IT industry. Along the way, he also earned a master’s degree in education from Wayne State University because, he says, “I wanted to be a better teacher.” At a cybersecurity summit about six years ago, Nabozny heard about a designation awarded jointly by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to colleges and universities with outstanding cybersecurity programs.
“That’s when I realized,” he says, “that I needed to step up my game.”
Receiving input from an advisor from the NSA/DHS program, Nabozny developed a strategy to qualify Macomb for a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Education Associate Level designation. Courses were updated, a Cybersecurity Club for students with Nabozny as advisor was formed and a virtual and on campus Cybersecurity Center providing a variety of cybersecurity resources was established. Nabozny received word on Sept. 9 that all his efforts had paid off and now the NSA/DHS designation will appear on the transcripts of all students completing the program through 2024.
“I got the email right before the first Cybersecurity Club meeting of the semester, so I shared the news with club members first,” says Nabozny. “This designation tells employers that our students are receiving a strong education in cybersecurity at Macomb and they will be prepared to put their skills to work when they graduate.”