UPDATE | AU Cyber Institute opening marks step forward for growing the workforce

Published: Sep. 14, 2016 at 3:35 PM EDT
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News 12 First at Five / Sept. 16, 2016

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Cyber Institute, publicly unveiled for the first time today, will be open for Augusta University students to use Monday.

University President Dr. Brooks Keel says they're putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to cyber security. The $2.5 million wing is just the beginning of a longtime legacy.

The upcoming generation of cyber-professionals could be born in Augusta, and bred here at the Cyber Institute.

"The threat is real today - the threat will only grow with the future," said Major General John B. Morrison Jr., Commanding General Cyber Center of Excellence.

Having a haven for cyber-students is critical to showing students who may not know about cyber aware of the opportunities the field presents.

"We've been talking about it for a while - but when we have student show can start walking up and down the hall to see the things that we're doing, see the labs," said Keel, "I mean, that's a world class laboratory we have here where you can do that sort of thing."

"Young people aren't as aware these careers exist. Their parents know, but they don't know," said Joanne Sexton, Director of Augusta University Cyber Institute.

Sexton confirms, yes - the field is still predominantly male, but they've got the opportunity to change that.

"We have to give our young women an opportunity to see what this career is about," she said, "Once they get a chance, they're all ready to jump in - so it's things like doing our GenCyber camp."

"It can be a little intimidating sometimes being, you know, one of five or so women in a room," said Magalie Hernandez, the AU Cyber Defense Team Captain.

However, it's not stopping stopping her, and she says, it's exciting to be at the forefront.

"I think this field is going to explode. This, I would probably equate will be the next medical profession. You know, how nurses are so much in demand - cyber security is going to be that way," Hernandez said.

For college students, it's going to start here - in these rooms and on these computers. Having the technology readily available can make all the difference.

"We have an opportunity to really get out there and make a difference in the world," said Hernandez.

President Keel says the Institute has some serious plans coming soon.

As part of the cluster-hire the university set aside a million dollars for, leaders are searching for two more cyber security professors. They'll also be looking to hire those with expertise in the cyber security of health information and medical records. The Institute also wants to really build up the research aspect of cyber-security.

Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Augusta University held a ribbon-cutting event for its new Cyber Institute facility Friday.

The ribbon-cutting was held at the University Hall on Friday, Sept. 16 at 11 a.m.

The new 9,000-square-foot Cyber Institute has a state-of-the-art cyber lab, a study lounge for students, a cyber coffee bar area, and 15 offices, according the university's news release.

The facility is scheduled to open for students on Monday, Sept. 19.