Q&A: Collin College's Dean of Academic Affairs shares vision for future

Brenden Mesch smiling
Brenden Mesch, dean of Academic Affairs/Workforce at Collin College's Frisco campus, poses in front of the new IT Center, which opened on Aug. 23. (Brooklynn Cooper/Community Impact Newspaper)

Brenden Mesch, dean of Academic Affairs/Workforce at Collin College's Frisco campus, poses in front of the new IT Center, which opened on Aug. 23. (Brooklynn Cooper/Community Impact Newspaper)

In 1999, Brenden Mesch was one of the first instructors of Collin College’s culinary program when the school only offered those classes at Allen High School.

In February 2020, he assumed his current position as Dean of Academic Affairs/Workforce at Collin College’s Frisco campus after various ventures in culinary arts academic leadership.

Community Impact Newspaper sat down with the dean to discuss the campus’ IT center, which opened this semester and houses the college’s Bachelor of Applied Technology in Cybersecurity.

What excites you about the new IT center?

I’m just excited about all the great opportunities for students. This IT center offers more possibilities for students to learn in different ways. We’ll evolve and add more technologies and add more resources for students, but it’s a wonderful thing to see the investment here. And it’s something that will have a huge return for not just Collin County, but North Texas in general. This will really support companies that may want to transplant their business or open up another division or corporate office. This makes it easier for them to make that decision. It’s also wonderful for parents. You have a great, world-class facility right in your backyard. We have students that are taking dual-credit classes, so they get to experience it while they’re in high school, but then for those that don’t, what a wonderful opportunity to go to school at Collin College and take advantage of the resources that we have. They’re very blessed.


What can students look forward to in the cybersecurity program?

It’s a very hands-on program, and that’s what sets us apart. We want students to walk away with the theory, but also be able to practice things such as penetration testing, where they’re trying to determine if there’s a network vulnerability. We want students to also get into a position where they can be managers and leaders within a cybersecurity firm or working for any business that has a cybersecurity leadership position. So, we look very macroscopic holistically, but we also want the students to understand the nitty-gritty aspects of protecting a network, understanding the vulnerabilities and putting in proper mitigation steps so that network and that environment’s safer.

Where do you see Collin College in the next five years?

I think we’re going to continue to grow. Where we have seen some nice growth is our relationship with dual-credit students in high schools. [The IT center] is a great example of a facility that can support high schools in the area. Some of our networking labs are Cisco Networking labs. It’s very expensive for high school to put that in. They can do it, but we have labs here at our campus in Plano, at Wylie. I think we’ll see more students that complete an associate’s degree while they’re in high school. It’d be a wonderful thing [if] they completed the two years for our Information Security associate’s, which is the cybersecurity associate’s degree. And then as 18-year-olds, start the junior and senior years for the [bachelor in applied technology]. ... We’re excited about the possibilities of offering more opportunities to students online. There’s challenges with that, with IT and cyber and media arts, but we’re looking forward to meeting and exceeding the expectations of students when they have an online class. We want that to be just as robust, warm, friendly and engaging as being in a classroom.
By Brooklynn Cooper
Brooklynn Cooper covers public education in Frisco and McKinney. Previously, she reported on southern Dallas for The Dallas Morning News. The Durham, N.C. native and devoted Tar Heel fan graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019.


MOST RECENT

A new project would bring office, retail and multifamily housing to US 380 and Hardin Boulevard. (Illustration courtesy city of McKinney)
New commercial, multifamily project for US 380 and Hardin Boulevard in McKinney moves forward

Most of the area in the back of the property is already zoned for multifamily, staff said. The applicant requested to slightly expand the area for multifamily and allow for 21 units per acre.

In a special meeting on Oct. 22, the district reviewed labor statistics from May 22 to Sept. 16. (Courtesy Unsplash)
Frisco ISD reviews staff turnover, employment in 2021-22 hiring season

Frisco ISD had 857 resignations out of 8,070 staff members from May 22 to Sept. 16. For new hires, the district brought on a total of 966 employees.

The first-ever Williamson County Fair and Rodeo opens its gates to guests Oct. 21 with live music, carnival rides, food vendors, rodeo events and more. (Courtesy Pexels)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Inaugural Williamson County Fair and Rodeo underway; delivery drones coming to Friso and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 22.

Harvest Seasonal Kitchen will have a new three-story home next year. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)
Harvest Seasonal Kitchen in McKinney to relocate, expand as Wells Group makes new acquisitions

At its current location, Harvest spans 6,500 square feet. Following the move, the restaurant will expand to 10,400 square feet across three floors.

Drone-based delivery company Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet, announced on Oct. 20 a partnership with Walgreens to bring the unconventional delivery model to densely populated metropolitan areas in the country. (Courtesy Wing)
Plano ISD is considering two draft calendars for 2022-23 school year; delivery drones will soon be flying around Frisco and more top DFW-area news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Taco Palenque is now open as drive-thru only in Round Rock. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Taco Palenque opens in Round Rock; Plano ISD considering two draft calendars for 2022-23 school year and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 21.

This green area in the fitness center was a recent addition to Craig Ranch Fitness & Spa. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
Life Time Fitness purchases Craig Ranch Fitness & Spa in McKinney, changes announced

When services at the McKinney fitness club are discontinued Nov. 20 the facility will undergo “an extensive multi-million dollar renovation” and reopen as Life Time, a letter to Craig Ranch Fitness & Spa members stated.

New transportation projects in the works for McKinney. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Crews work to widen Custer Road and 3 more transportation projects in McKinney

Here are the latest transportation projects happening in McKinney this fall.

running track with worn sections
McKinney Boyd High School to receive track refresh this year

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Chief Operations Officer Greg Suttle said. “We’ve got a really good track team, so use of the track leads to wear of the track.”

Renderings of the conceptual tower were shown depicting a roughly 100-foot tower, but the intent is to build a smaller tower. A total of $2.43 million was given as an estimated cost for a 100-foot gravity tower, but presenters said the cost would scale down with a smaller tower. (Courtesy city of Frisco)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Early concept for Frisco’s Northwest Community Park includes biking tower for ‘gravity riding’; Perky Beans Cafe now open in Leander, and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 20.

Drone-based delivery company Wing, a subsidiary of Alphabet, announced on Oct. 20 a partnership with Walgreens to bring the unconventional delivery model to densely populated metropolitan areas in the country. (Courtesy Wing)
Delivery drones will soon be flying around Frisco; Dutch Bros Coffee coming to Grapevine and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.