USF Moves Forward in Cybersecurity Center Plan

USF News

TAMPA, 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:

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.