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Urban City Codes Embraces Hands-On Cyber Learning

By Circadence • Posted about 1 year ago

Success Story
Case Studies
Urban City Codes

Urban City Codes provides culturally-focused, community-based technology training solutions that empower under-represented, under-resourced, individuals, groups, and companies to develop and stay competitive in a rapidly changing world.

“Tangible digital skills development needs to happen faster than the rate of technological change and in particular for blacks and minorities. Otherwise, skills gaps can’t be fixed.”


The Situation

Black and brown people make up 2% of the technology industry. As the demand for cyber protection increases, the need for skilled cyber professionals rises and interest in cyber careers rises too. Tondi Allen, social entrepreneur technology leader (opens new window) at Urban City Codes recognized the challenges black and brown people face when it comes to adopting technology to advance in careers.

As a result, she founded Urban City Codes (opens new window) to help prepare people for rapid changes in the digital world. Offering interactive in-house and remote training services, Tondi looked for unique “unorthodox” ways to teach cyber security. “Cyber security is boring…it’s no secret. It’s been that way for years, but I always look for new ways to teach boring subjects,” she said.

The Solution


Tondi learned about Project Ares through LinkedIn (opens new window) and was attracted to the solution offering because of its gamified scenarios. She knew that if learning cyber security could be fun and engaging, it would lower the barriers to entry around technology adoption and use. In partnership with cyber instructor Daniel Addison (opens new window), Urban City Codes launched “Cybersecurity Missions Training” (opens new window), a 4-week course to help students of all cyber competency levels apply learned concepts to real-world scenarios to build skills for the workforce or become cyber consultants. The course included hands-on cyber labs within the Project Ares platform wrapped around a cyber course curriculum. Students were taught network analysis, (opens new window)Linux , Scripting (opens new window), Traffic analysis (opens new window), and Powershell fundamentals (opens new window). They used the Project Ares labs to apply concepts learned in virtual instruction.

The course also provided recommended textbook readings to accompany the hands-on labs. The course was divided into units that addressed various cyber fundamentals including use of tools, work roles, and tactics and procedures. A customized combination of cyber learning games (opens new window) and foundational and specialized scenarios (opens new window) were utilized per week to help students practice concepts discussed in class. Students completed a final project exam that included learning in a specialized scenario (Mission 13) in Project Ares (opens new window)

“Project Ares made learning cyber security fun, and it was a no-brainer to use the labs to teach in a gamified way.”

Tondi Allen

Student Benefits


They were able to take the concepts learned in the class and apply them in realistic hands-on labs to demonstrate a true understanding of cyber principles and practices. Immersive scenarios, team chat, and other features allowed students to develop and strengthen professional skills in communication, teamwork, collaboration, and problem-solving. Technical competencies (opens new window) learned were complemented by workplace competencies like critical thinking and organization.

Instructor Benefits


Tondi sees that cyber security is an exciting, well-paid, and currently relevant industry that draws in many people. However, she points out that the surface appeal needs to be supported by a serious approach to skill-building. Teaching the basics of how a computer works, teaching digital literacy…all those fundamental areas that help students learn cyber is critical to long-term career success. For Tondi, it’s important to meet learners where they are and understand their challenges first.

Urban City Codes looks forward to offering more hands-on courses for students so they have a pathway to pursue cyber certifications and full-time careers in the industry. The organization currently partners with more than 17 companies looking to hire entry-level cyber professionals. Tondi is confident students who complete the 4-week course will be well-equipped with the skills and confidence they need to break into the industry and thrive in it.

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