(AACC) will be expanding to a new facility next year near Arundel Mills, with classrooms that will focus on training in the burgeoning cybersecurity field.
The AACC Board of Trustees met on Tuesday to review and approve the lease for the new location in the third-story office at 7556 Teague Rd. in Severn. After hunting for two years, school officials said they determined this location was the best fit for the college.
Starting next year, the college will begin a 10-year lease on the property for two spaces, totaling 29,500 square feet, and can expand to up to nine additional classrooms.
The space was previously rented by a company named ITT National Training Center, who paid the college $1.5 million to take their spot in the building. ITT will also be covering the rent until March 2012.
Originally, the college planned to use additional space for other classes as well, but AACC President Martha Smith said the popularity of its cybersecurity classes had been proven. The few classrooms they have available are overcrowded at peak times. Expanding to meet the community’s needs was one of the college’s primary goals, Smith said.
“As we began to study this area, we realized that Cyber[security] really needed to become its own initiative,” Smith said.
By expanding their cybersecurity classroom space, AACC Vice President Andrew Meyer said the hope was to become a hub for the training industry, able to attract larger clients such as the NSA, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force and more.
The officials project enrollment growth of more than 50 percent over the next year for their cybersecurity programs.
Trustee James Johnson expressed skepticism that the move and expansion could be made without a hit on the college’s bottom line. AACC Vice President Melissa Beardmore said that the revenue projections indicated that the college would be able to make the expense with more than a little left over.
Trustee Walter Hall said even if the college had to lose some money over this initiative, he considered it a strategic investment in a growing industry.
“I think the issue is positioning the college to be at the forefront of a discipline that clearly the government is focusing on in Maryland,” Hall said. “This is exactly the kind of opportunity we should be allocating our resources in.”
Smith’s presentation was titled “An Expanded Presence in West County,” but Hall noted that this new location was not the final answer to the college’s need for additional space. He said they would ultimately still need to be on the lookout for a larger facility to expand with additional classrooms.