CIS chair named tech educator of the year

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Troy Touchette calls his teaching style “giving the opportunity to figure things out on their own.”

By Jerico Magallanes

Troy Touchette, computer information systems chair, was recently named Tech Educator of the Year for 2015 by the San Antonio Business Journal’s second Tech Flash Titan Awards in December.

According to the SABJ, Touchette’s work shaped a curriculum to help students make a more seamless transition throughout academic careers and onward to employment in technology.

Vernell Walker, dean of professional and technical education, said in an email, “As department chairperson, Troy Touchette received recognition for San Antonio College as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense for Two-Year Education from the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.

The CAE2Y award was presented with a certificate ‘in recognition of significant contributions in meeting the national demand for cyber defense education, developing a growing number of professionals with cyber defense expertise, and ultimately, contributing to the protection of the national information infrastructure.’”

Touchette was involved with this college’s computer team taking third place in the Texas Showdown competition of Cyber Panoply at the Westin Hill Country Resort at La Cantera on Oct. 5, 2013.

In the summer, Touchette trained area high school teachers for a new dual-credit program for multimedia specialist.

Touchette also hosted a camp titled Cyber Defenders Summer, which teaches cyber security to middle and high school students.

Touchette keeps the camp free for disadvantaged students thanks to a grant he obtained.

He said, “Technology is about the people,” referring to collaborators such as Joe Sanchez, a director of the CyberTexas Foundation, a key figure in his accomplishments as a tech educator.

“The way technology has shotgunned, you can’t be an expert on everything,” Touchette said on the current state of technology.

CIS students often bunker into one programming language, which Touchette described as “political parties.”

Touchette reassures his students with an analogy, asking them “which tool in the toolbox is the best? What’s the job you’re doing?”

Touchette first took interest in CIS as a child after watching a Public Broadcasting Service special on computers.

In high school, he took a class on computer programming and went deeper into computer science after.

Touchette ventured into engineering outside of high school, and came into programming in “a very roundabout way,” he said.

Touchette’s first job took him to Austin as a programmer for the Texas Workforce Commission.

Later, he relocated to Louisiana to work for an insurance agency as a programmer.

Despite no prior educational experience, it was Touchette’s frequent training and mentoring and senior status in the workforce that inspired him to pursue teaching CIS at a college level.

His hands-on training style continues to this day, saying he teaches his students by “giving the opportunity to figure things out on their own.”

Touchette has been a faculty member since 1999 and was named chair of the CIS department in 2012.

His responsibilities include overseeing department operations, including budget, scheduling and degree plan coordination.

He also serves as a professor of programming and security courses.


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