FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Maryland -- The 780th Military Intelligence (MI) Brigade partnered with the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) Training Center to build the course curriculum and provide instruction for the Tool Developer Qualification Course (TDQC) and on July 28 the second graduating class received their certificates of completion at the Fort Meade Post Theater.

TDQC is an intense 35-week education program designed to educate individuals who have little to no computer programming experience and have been identified through an assessment as having the aptitude and desire to become a computer programmer.

"My basic understanding was shallower. The course helped deepen the concepts and reinforce those things I did know -- It was a confidence booster," said Spc. Marlin Washington, 781st MI Battalion, the distinguished honor graduate for the class. "The biggest takeaway was how it helped me learn how to research."

According to the TDQC program manager, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Thomas Bichard, graduates of the TDQC are proficient to an intermediate level in creating programs using the C and Python computer programming languages. Additionally, The TDQC provides an education path for individuals to become experienced at approximately 90 percent of the identified critical developer requirements that an individual must be able to articulate and demonstrate through practical application in order to be certified as a Cyberspace Solution Engineer. 

A Cyberspace Solution Engineer is a versatile, highly trained individual responsible for the analysis of system vulnerabilities, product research, cyberspace solution development, documentation, and implementation of software and hardware solutions that operate in and through cyberspace and serve as a force multiplier for maneuver forces. 

"The course teaches the basic concepts of programming and quickly gets you to a level where you can be beneficial to a (cyber) team producing useful programs," said Spc. Andrew Fricke, 781st MI Battalion, the honor graduate for the class.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mark Mollenkopf, the command chief warrant officer for U.S. Army Cyber Command (ARCYBER) was the guest speaker at the ceremony and challenged the graduates with humor in his remarks.

"Cultivate passion for what you do and for those around you," said Mollenkopf. "It's wise to avoid going too far (into debates) that often crop up such as VI versus EMACS, Python versus PhP, Tabs versus White Space, Java versus .Net. These can be humorous diversions, but if taken too far can negatively affect the team culture and create an unproductive cliquish work environment."

This graduation marks the second iteration of the TDQC. To date, there have been 29 graduates from the course. The third iteration of the course is currently in session at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and the fourth iteration is scheduled to start at the UMBC Training Center in September.