USF Moves Forward in Cybersecurity Center Plan
Fla. (Nov. 27, 2013) - Florida faces a
narrow window of opportunity to capitalize on one of the most in-demand,
high-paying, and rapidly growing fields of our time — cybersecurity. With
six-figure starting salaries, this specialized STEM field can keep thousands of
Florida graduates working in the state by creating new high-skilled jobs,
attracting high-tech companies to open their doors here, and serving as a vital
resource to businesses and national defense.
Recognizing this need
and opportunity, the 2013 Florida Legislature requested USF provide a plan and
budget to create the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, to be housed under the
leadership of the university and secure Florida’s place as the national leader
in this burgeoning field.
In November, the Florida Board of Governors approved USF’s
plan for the center, which includes a request for state funding to support the phased-in
$16.1 million program, as well as a $30 million facility that would house
top-secret research on the Tampa campus. USF will also repurpose millions of
its own resources to support this endeavor, in addition to garnering private
funding and grants.
To read the plan, visit: http://www.usf.edu/pdfs/final-cybersecurity-report.pdf.
The demand for
highly-trained cybersecurity professionals is considerable. Even when compared
with other high-demand IT jobs, demand for cybersecurity jobs is growing more
than three times faster.
Across the State
University System and at the state’s independent colleges and universities,
pockets of work are now being done in this field. These include the
first-of-its-kind cybersecurity master’s degree approved by USF’s Board of
Trustees, a recent local cybersecurity outreach effort by the University of
West Florida, a cybersecurity program being promoted by the Florida Institute
of Technology, and a cybersecurity-emphasized bachelor’s degree at Embry Riddle
University, to name a few.
USF’s effort is being led by Sri Sridharan, who has been appointed managing director of the cybersecurity initiative. Prior to joining USF, Sridharan led both established companies, including IBM, and start-up companies.
He said USF’s location near leading global tech companies, Central Command and Southern Command at MacDill Air Force Base, and the number of faculty already teaching and performing research in all aspects of cybersecurity provides a great platform to build a world-class program quickly.
“If there is a time to launch this initiative, it is today,” Sridharan said. “This is going to be statewide initiative where we are going to collaborate with the other state institutions. The timing is right, the location is right, the companies are right, and the people and skill sets are right.”
To learn more about the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, click here.