Cisco Program Earns Top Industry Honors, Demand for Jobs High During Pandemic

Joliet Junior College’s Cisco program has once again been recognized for its exceptional contributions to the field. It has earned the Cisco Networking Academy CCNA Curriculum Excellence 2019 distinction.  

The Cisco Networking Academy presents this award to one academy in each region for achieving excellence in teaching a curriculum. Awardees are evaluated using a rigorous process based on student feedback scores and student performance. 

cisco students
JJC Cisco Students

“This is a high honor considering we are among two colleges in North America to receive this award out of 10,000 global academies,” said JJC Cisco instructor Joseph Sullivan. 

In addition, three professors in the Cisco program have received the Cisco Networking Academy’s Expert Level Instructor Excellence Award for their contributions to the field and in the classroom. With the award, Sullivan, along with fellow instructors William Martin and Dave Tepper, are now among the top 10 percent of all Cisco Networking Academy instructors worldwide. 

This is the tenth time that JJC instructors have earned this honor. 

“We are proud that to be the recipient of the annual North American Continent Award for Curriculum Excellence in CCNA presented by Cisco and the recipient of an incredible three awards for expert level instruction presented to the top instructors globally,” said Sullivan. “Recognition of this magnitude is made possible through the college's continued support for our Cisco Academy at every level.” 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sullivan says that there has been a great need for IT professionals.  

“Contrary to the general labor market decline, the need for IT infrastructure has had a major boost to support a shift to off-site operations,” he said.  

Outside of the pandemic, the need for IT jobs has steadily been increasing with more demand for real-time video and mobile phone support.  

JJC’s Cisco program teaches students the technology from the ground-up, meaning no experience or prerequisites are required. 

Students can earn an Associate in Applied Science as a computer networking technologist or choose between two certificate options in networking security and voice/wireless/security. 

JJC’s program is backed by training resources from Cisco, the world’s largest cyber security and networking company. It allows students to develop their skills in the following areas: cloud, security, wireless, cyber operations, collaboration voice and video, routing and switching and advanced protocols.  

The program also offers simulations and hands-on experience using the latest industry equipment. 

“As the coordinator for the program, I speak with prospective students on an almost daily basis, I often hear about the desire to do something different than their current job,” said Sullivan. “Prospective students are looking to basically rebuild their skill set, but they are not quite sure where to start because of a lack of experience with information technology (IT).” 

All of JJC’s Cisco courses are now being transitioned to an online format to support the move to online classes during the summer and fall semesters.  

The classes have flipped; instead of the students coming to campus to get the lab experience, the labs are coming to the students through remote teaching methods. 

The program offers free apps and software that students can install, video lessons, live lectures, and interactive content to help them learn the material. This allows students to take the classes using mobile phones and tablets, not just a laptop.  

“The good news is that our academy is specially designed to take students from the ground up with literally no IT knowledge and transform their skillset through simulations, teamwork, interactive exercises and classroom instruction tailored for the industry certification. The experience and skills learned can make an immediate and positive impact on many organizations,” said Sullivan.  

Those interested in the program are encouraged to contact professors Martin at or 815-280-7718 or Sullivan at or 815-280-7720. 

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