LSU Enabled Professional Career in Music, then Cybersecurity
LSU alumnus Andrew Trimble had to put his trumpet down due to a medical condition but found a new career securing communications and data for the U.S. Army after completing LSU Online & Continuing Education’s Cyber Bootcamp.
Professional trumpet player and LSU School of Music alumnus Andrew Trimble from Alexandria, Louisiana, had already traveled to 67 countries and counting when his head started turning mysteriously to the left. He couldn’t play or hardly make a sound. What was going on? Not yet diagnosed with cervical dystonia, Trimble was forced to walk away from a lucrative contract and career playing music on cruise ships on every continent. What now?
Trimble reconnected with his alma mater, LSU. He’d always had an interest in technology. Knowing the great and growing demand for cybersecurity professionals, Trimble enrolled in LSU Online & Continuing Education’s Cyber Bootcamp in partnership with Fullstack Academy. He quickly learned how to manage, monitor and secure computer systems and networks, and how to respond to cyberattacks.
“It was a phenomenal experience and something I could sink my teeth into,” Trimble said. “I didn’t want to stew on not being able to play, and flounder. It’s not easy to put 18 years into learning a craft and then not be able to do it.”
Trimble graduated in January 2021 and proceeded to earn the popular CompTIA Security+ industry certification, which since has become an additional LSU Online & Continuing Education offering in partnership with SkillStorm. The next day, he saw a job posting for an IT position at then-Fort Polk, now Fort Johnson, in Vernon Parish in western Louisiana.
“I looked at it and the only job requirement was the exact certification I’d just gotten,” Trimble said.
He started working at the Army base’s Joint Readiness Training Center, or JRTC, in June 2021. One of only two such centers in the nation, JRTC welcomes soldiers from across the country for intense battlefield training where the resident 509th infantry regiment, “Geronimo,” serves as the local opposing force.
“No one ever wins against them; they know the terrain and use every trick in the book short of cheating,” Trimble said. “My job is to establish and maintain communications with the training unit and help them troubleshoot any issues they may have with their servers. Once they go into what’s called ‘the box,’ we simulate their headquarters where we dictate the exercises and guide them as they go through this grueling training in the wilderness, dealing with the elements and wildlife.”
After one year, Trimble was promoted to systems engineer.
“Thanks to LSU, I had a leg up on other folks when we had staff turnover,” Trimble said. “I now find a lot of fulfillment in my job because I get to be creative and resolve issues. Having lots of soft skills from playing music also helps; being able to listen and observe and pay attention to many things at the same time. Our work environment can get hectic with many conversations going on.”
Since Trimble has family in Alexandria, he lives there and commutes to Fort Johnson, about an hour west. He’s considering experimental therapies, including Botox, to alleviate the cervical dystonia to be able to play trumpet again, but “mostly for fun.” His future career is with the Department of Defense, he says.
“I like the pay and the security,” Trimble said. “There were lots of skills I learned in the Cyber Bootcamp that have been beneficial. I don’t think I could have advanced to my current position otherwise, so I owe a lot to that program. And even if I can’t play anymore, going to college for music really paid dividends. Even now.”
Trimble works for BlueWater Federal Solutions, a Tetra Tech Company, supporting the U.S. Army JRTC mission as a government contractor.
“My team, all contractors, supports the Army Signal Staff in the Division Network Operations Center and serves as the Higher Command for the Rotational Training Unit,” said Cavin Clark, BlueWater team lead. “We provide technical expertise in the areas of automations, networking, satellite communication and information security and assurance, so soldiers can plan, collaborate and communicate effectively on the simulated battlefield at JRTC while training here.”
Clark has a lot to say about working with Trimble.
“Andrew has been the point of the spear on our automations team,” Clark said. “His technical knowledge is beyond reproach, and his selfless work ethic is an absolute asset to our organization. Andrew’s ability to learn detailed technical tasks quickly and remain laser-focused during stressful situations is truly remarkable. He inspires everyone around him.”
In addition to the online Cyber Bootcamp and CompTIA Security+ course, LSU Online & Continuing Education recently launched an online Graduate Certificate in Cybersecurity Risk Management with the LSU E.J. Ourso College of Business.