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CCN Focus: Bryan Bennett of Kirkwood Community College

“It is wonderful to see our students go out into the community and begin successful careers as IT practitioners,” said Dr. Bryan Bennet.

As a part of the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) featured blogs, we would like to introduce to you some of our professors and instructors in the Convergence College Network (CCN) community. The CCN is a select cohort of community colleges and universities from across the country that connects IT educators with a wealth of resources to enhance their programs. In this week’s Q&A blog, we’re featuring Dr. Bryan Bennett, Associate Professor and Program Coordinator in Network and System Administration at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

What do you teach? I am teaching, or have taught Computer Hardware Basics, Advanced PC Concepts, Network Security Basics, Cyber Law and Ethics, Information Storage Management, LAN Management, Windows Networking, Special Topics in Technology, and Intro to Computers.

How long have you been a teacher? This is my fourth year at Kirkwood. Prior to coming to Kirkwood, I taught for 18 years at the University of Northern Iowa (though in a different field).

Did you have a job in industry before you became a teacher?  I did not have a job in industry, though I had extensive background as a teacher\performer in the area of music. Shortly upon completion of my Doctorate, I developed a medical condition that forced me to pursue a new career path. Upon doing research I discovered that many former musicians were making a successful transition to IT so I decided to attend Kirkwood Community College, earning my A.A.S in the area of Computer Support Specialist with a certificate in LAN Management. In addition, I earned several industry certifications with the intent of finding a job in industry. As fate would have it, shortly upon completing my studies, Kirkwood was looking for someone to teach several “first year” IT courses. I spent a year as an adjunct, then transitioned to full time faculty.  In addition to my teaching duties, I assisted with the management of our classroom infrastructure and served as administrator for our Netlabs environment. Presently, I am Program Coordinator for the Network and Systems Administration program.

What sparked your interest in teaching?  I was fortunate to have several excellent teachers in my academic studies that inspired me to pursue this as a career. Teaching is a place that one can truly make a difference in the community.

Dr. Bryan Bennett attended the 2019 Summer Working Connections. He is pictured here third row on the right with other IT faculty participants.

What is the secret to successfully teaching IT to students?  Honestly, I am still trying to figure this one out, and that’s okay. I do not believe that there is one secret as the students are constantly changing as is technology. The targets are constantly in flux and one approach will not work for all students. However, I do believe that it is imperative that we spark the intellectual curiosity in our students by teaching them how to be lifelong learners.

What’s the biggest challenge teaching IT? The rate of change is my biggest challenge. This is also what brings me the greatest satisfaction. There is never a dull moment!

Do you have a favorite class to teach?  If so, why?  I do not have a favorite, each brings its own set of rewards and challenges. However, I really enjoy some of the philosophical questions that we debate in Cyber Law and Ethics.

What is the best thing about being a teacher?  The best thing about being a teacher is teaching “life lessons” and making a real change in the lives of our students. This is true whether the medium is Information Technology or Music.  It is wonderful to see our students go out into the community and begin successful careers as IT practitioners. This is really what it is all about.

What advice would you give an IT student about to graduate and enter the workforce?  Stay current, stay open, and continue to learn.

IT is always changing – how do you keep up with the ongoing evolution of IT?  Lots of reading!!! Also, the Working Connections events have been extremely beneficial. It is a great opportunity to learn from experts and network with colleagues!

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