In light of the $60 million investment the state is making in the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, Augusta University is “upping our game” in cyber and computer sciences programs by creating a new school, President Brooks Keel announced Thursday morning.
AU will create the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences, making it the university’s 10th separate college or school, and will have a national search to find a dean, Keel said.
“It gives it more prominence, more focus and allows us to strategically think more carefully about how we move forward and puts it in a place where we can really shine a light on it,” he said.
As part of that initiative, the school is partnering with Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken to create a joint faculty position in cyber security. The lab will provide $200,000 toward the position, which will allow the recruitment of someone neither entity might be able to attract on its own, said Dr. Terry A. Michalske, director of the lab.
“This is an opportunity for us to jointly attract a nationally prominent new staff member who will work both on our programs and be on the faculty,” he said. It also allows greater collaboration by institutions that have their own expertise and perspective, Michalske said.
“Each organization comes at it from a different angle, from a little different perspective,” he said. “It’s those different views of the problems that really create an opportunity for truly new ideas to emerge.”
For instance, RNL already has “decades” of cybersecurity experience and expertise in securing and protecting “very sensitive” data, Michalske said.
“We have issues that we deal with in terms of locating and tracking nuclear materials to make sure we know where they are at all times. We have very sensitive data that we have to protect,” he said. “We have manufacturing facilities on the site, manufacturing materials for national security purposes, for environmental purposes. And we operate many of those in wireless configurations today. We’ve been working with the National Security Agency to develop and certify wireless protocols for our factories, which is very important.”
AU is in the midst of a 15-years alliance with Phillips that could also provide fruitful collaborations with the national lab, Keel said,
The new AU school will already have 300 students in current programs and will allow AU to recruit more faculty to expand, Keel said.
“We can’t have a school without great faculty,” he said. “We’ve got to bring more faculty and we know that. We’re rapidly moving forward to try to ramp that up.”
The school will begin in the fall and relocate to the new 168,000-square-foot cyber center on the AU Riverfront Campus once it opens next July, Keel said. After Gov. Nathan Deal moved to make the investment in the cyber center, the school had to respond in kind, he said.
“(Deal) upped the ante and it caused us to up our own ante and to put our best foot forward in terms of providing the type of education and training that the workforce is going to need, not only for that facility, not only for Fort Gordon, but for all of the other businesses and industry in our community and around (us),” Keel said.
That could have reverberations well beyond this area, Michalske said.
“I’m really confident that the partnerships that we are forming in this region are really going to set the CSRA to become an international leader and center for cybersecurity innovation and workforce training,” he said.
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.