16 Apr 2016 Augusta University & Army Cyber Ctr. of Excellence Begin New Partnership
Right now it is just sheets of paper signed Friday by Augusta University President Brooks Keel and Maj. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty of the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence at Fort Gordon.
But both leaders see it blossoming to become a major force for training thousands of students and service members in cyber security and making Augusta the destination for this sector in the future while producing spin-off companies that could revitalize the downtown area.
The agreement to work together is the result of 18 months of talks between the center and the university that will truly be a partnership and should also involve the private sector, Fogarty said.
“We have some really wicked problems that we have to get after,” he said. “We just can’t do that all internally. What we’re looking for is expertise” that academia and the private sector can provide.
For instance, Fort Gordon now trains about 13,000 “signal soldiers” each year and a few hundred “cyber soldiers,” Fogarty said. “But starting next year, we will pick up the pace for the cyber training.”
That will reach about a thousand a year in cyber training, in addition to maintaining roughly the same level of signal training, he said.
“There is, we think, tremendous opportunity to partner with Augusta University” and not just on cyber but also information technology and communications training, Fogarty said. There had been a previous affiliation with Georgia Tech but AU has a distinct advantage, he added.
“Augusta University, they are right here, so proximity is very, very important in this business,” Fogarty said. “I think that is what the industry partners are starting to realize, also. You want to be in the CSRA because that is where the business is being conducted.”
Initially, the university’s cyber training will be conducted in a “state of the art cyber lab” that will also have virtual capacity to add students who can’t physically be there, said AU Provost Gretchen Caughman.
But Keel said he anticipates a number of spin-off companies will locate close to the training, which in turn could lead to the creation of a “digital village” elsewhere. Keel could envision students taking a course in one area and then walking across the campus to take an internship with a cyber company. He said the old Golf and Gardens property on Reynolds Street, which is owned by the University System of Georgia, as well as the former King and Sibley mills, could be possible destinations for this site.
In the meantime, the university is “rapidly ramping up” to provide the new education and training, including investing $1 million to hire at least six new faculty, with two already identified and four more hopefully by the fall, Keel said. Then it becomes a matter of matching the course offerings – from short courses and certificates all the way up to advanced degrees – with the training that is needed, he said.
“We want to offer a complete spectrum of educational opportunities to meet the specific and the general education needs that his workforce is going to have,” Keel said. But those offerings are bound to attract other students as well, he said.
“We are going to be a center of excellence in terms of providing education in cyber security across this country,” Keel said. “It is going to be a great magnet to bring additional students from all over that are interested in this area.”
Those students will be able to turn around and find jobs in the “virtual tsunami” of companies that will come in to take advantage of the area’s expertise, he said.
“And we’ve got to be ready as an academic institution to provide that training and also be ready as an academic institution to provide the research to support those companies,” Keel said.
Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Tom Corwin/Staff Writer