(Photo courtesy of UMBC Training Centers)
In his military career, Homer Minnick approached the UMBC Training Centers for specially crafted courses on cybersecurity.
“I got to the point where I needed to have something of a more established training program, so I started looking for places where I could send my soldiers for established training,” Minnick said. “UMBC Training Centers was one of the places I came across.”
Now his former Army comrades are coming to the retired master sergeant asking for the same thing. In 2012, just after his retirement from the U.S. Army, Minnick became the director of the Center for Cybersecurity Training for the UMBC TC in Columbia.
Minnick came to the field late in his 20-year Army career. He finished a bachelor’s degree in information system management in 2004.
“At that point, in 2005, the army was really starting to look at cybersecurity,” he said. “And I had just enough [experience], because of the degree, that they were willing to take a chance. They needed people, and the thing I displayed, which I later looked for in all the people I brought into it, was a passion for it.”
Minnick worked in intelligence until his retirement in late 2011. His responsibilities included assessing training opportunities, and that’s what first led him to UMBC.
“They had the right mix of people and the right mentality to be able to support that,” he said. “I continued to have a relationship with Training Centers. They knew me and knew I was involved with something new, something kind of gratifying as far as the military was concerned.”
When Training Centers officials caught wind of his retirement, they approached him to keep doing much of the same work, including working with Department of Defense personnel, for them.
Since beginning his new role, the cybersecurity staff at UMBC TC has grown by “nine or 10 people” from the two dozen on staff in 2012. It has added eight to 10 new courses, Minnick said. Department of Defense courses, once a rarity in Minnick’s old world, now account for a third of the program’s revenue, he said.
Going forward, he wants to have more frequent mobile training programs on area bases.
“It’s something that we’re wanting to do but we’re waiting to get the process down … and figure out how to do it efficiently,” he said.
The goal is to serve 6,000 students in the coming year, Minnick said, even if current enrollment is “a little off track with that.”
Nevertheless, says Minnick, working with the Training Centers is a rewarding new step for him.
“I’ve been here 2 1/2 years and it’s interesting to see how things come full circle,” he said. “Many of the people that I trained and I placed … they’ve kind of grown up and they’re now in tech leadership roles, and they’re looking for training. That’s what we’re starting to see … they know what I’ve done in the past.”