Protecting from the Outside In
For over two decades, Professor Rick Cassoni was on the front lines of our nation’s defense in the Navy as a Submarine Warfare Officer.
As an Assistant Combat Systems officer and Reactor Controls Assistant, Cassoni served on attack and research submarines keeping our country safe. Now he is a full-time faculty member teaching MiraCosta students how to keep their companies safe on the virtual front lines of cybersecurity.
Four years after starting full-time at MiraCosta, he leads several of the San Diego region’s most advanced information technology programs. MiraCosta College’s Computer Studies and Information Technology (CSIT)
programs are based on employment data and advisory board input, with the goal of providing students with leading edge knowledge, helping prepare for industry certifications, and experience needed to not only get their first job but to thrive in a career.
“I wanted to create pathways and opportunities for our students so they can get a good education, high-wage jobs, and sink their teeth into a career,” said Cassoni. He helped develop courses and programs in data analytics, systems administration, and cybersecurity. Through hands-on experience and classroom instruction, the MiraCosta College CSIT department offers eight associate degree and certificate of achievement programs.
Cassoni was in defense contracting after his time in the Navy. Inspired by his wife, a college professor herself, Cassoni began pursuing a career in academia so he could share his enthusiasm for computing.
But Cassoni’s boundless enthusiasm doesn’t stop in the classroom or on campus. He is the faculty advisor for Club IT, the CSIT department’s student club that creates a fun, engaging environment. The club meets weekly where students can learn outside the classroom, network, and participate in community service projects, such as exposing local K-12 students to information technology.
“Once a week we geek out. We fly drones, play with virtual reality headsets, and compete in nationwide cybersecurity competitions,” Cassoni said. “The students not only get valuable experience, they also have the chance to show they are passionate about what they do, are willing to go above and beyond, and that they are the type of person employers want to hire.”