Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center coming to Augusta University Riverfront Campus

Published: Jan. 11, 2017 at 12:21 PM EST
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Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced Wednesday that the state will invest $50 million to build the new 150,000-square-foot cyber facility to be named the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center.

According to the school, a portion of Augusta University's Riverfront Campus, the old Golf and Gardens, will become the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, which will be the new home of the Augusta University Cyber Institute.

They say the biggest draw is a cyber range and getting everyone together in one room. Costing more than double anything else on the Governor's budget list, it's a message that Georgia's getting serious about cybersecurity, and Augusta's right at the heart of the fight.

"This invaluable resource will put Georgia at the pinnacle of efforts to enhance American cybersecurity in the public and private arenas with a resource unlike any other in the country," Gov. Nathan Deal said during his State of the State address Wednesday.

"It's one of the largest investments of any state that we're aware of specifically targeted toward cybersecurity and training the workforce that's going to be associated with it," Augusta University President Brooks Keel said.

At the heart of this new education and training center will be a world class cyber range.

"What this cyber range is is a safe environment where you can engage in cyber war. You can attack a computer and you can defend an attack on a computer. So, it is a real life situation," Keel said.

Engineers will develop scenarios based on an industry or topic then attack a computer, and the students will have to take what they learned in the classroom and put it into action. It's the best way to train a growing workforce in cybersecurity without doing any real-life damage.

"There are only a handful of states who have done a range like this," Keel said.

It will also be the home of the AU Cyber Institute.

Picture students, federal agents, state actors, public and private businesses all in one place and right down the street from Cyber Command at Fort Gordon.

"It's just going to get everybody in the room together so they can collaborate and innovate," former intelligence officer and current assistant Political Science Professor John Heslen said. "Innovation is sometimes like electricity; you don't know where it's going to go."

The proposed budget includes $50 million for the state-owned facility, "designed to promote modernization in cybersecurity technology." Deal said the new initiative will be housed under the Georgia Technology Authority and will help solidify Georgia's reputation as the "Silicon Valley of the South."

According to Gov. Deal, Georgia currently has 290,000 establishments across 42 major industries that are all vested in cybersecurity in some way.

"With the Cyber Innovation and Training Center joining our already impressive array of cyber and technological facilities, Georgia will truly be at the forefront of an issue that we see more and more on the front pages of our newspapers and the nightly news reports," Deal said.

Army Cyber Center of Excellence Major General John B. Morrison, Jr. and Command Sergeant Major Carlos Simmons along with AU President Brooks Keel were at the Capitol for the big announcement.

Construction should begin this Spring and take 18 months to complete, putting the finish date around Fall 2018.

Fort Gordon released the following statement on the announcement:

"Fort Gordon has always enjoyed a tremendous partnership with the State of Georgia and the Greater Augusta community in particular. As one of very few Army installations with continuing growth, that partnership will continue to have strategic importance. With the establishment of Fort Gordon as the Army's Cyber Center of Excellence and soon as the Headquarters for Army Cyber Command, Fort Gordon will quickly become the hub of Cyberspace Operations for the Army. Investments such as the Cyber Range will not only enable our Nation to maintain its advantage in a highly contested cyberspace domain, it will also allow for the type of partnerships between the Department of Defense, Academia, and Industry that is required to attract, produce, and retain the caliber of workforce necessary to be a global leader in cyberspace operations and cyber technologies. We look forward to the opportunities that this Cyber Range will present to the local community, the State, and the Nation."

- John B. Morrison Jr.

Major General (MG), USA

Commanding General, U.S Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon