With funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) is hosting a conference to accelerate workforce initiatives prioritized by the White House Office of the National Cybersecurity Director (ONCD). The Academia Involvement in Community Cybersecurity Conference will be held at the university’s new San Pedro I building in downtown San Antonio from Tuesday, February 28 to Wednesday, March 1, 2023.
The goal of the conference is to help institutions of higher education (IHE) and school districts understand how they can impact the nation’s cybersecurity posture and workforce. More than 200 members of government, academia and industries will be attending the conference.
“Creating the future that we seek – one in which Americans are enriched, empowered and enlivened by connectivity instead of burdened by it – will require contributions by key stakeholders across the public and private sectors. With this in mind, I’m delighted to see that UTSA is hosting an event on the role that academic institutions can play impacting cybersecurity posture and workforce needs,” said Seeyew Mo, assistant national cyber director for ONCD Training and Education.
Conference attendees will examine how academia can have a significant impact in their communities and will learn how to create a culture of cybersecurity throughout their community. This includes all sectors: government, industry, critical infrastructure, academia, non-profit organizations and citizens of all ages.
The UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS), who is co-hosting the conference, takes a grass-roots level approach to cybersecurity programs that can advance community and organizational cybersecurity capabilities and collaboration.
“The CIAS has been advocating for whole-community cybersecurity programs for 20 years,” said Gregory White, the center’s director. “We’ve seen first-hand how academic institutions, whether at the high school or collegiate level, are key components to effective cybersecurity programs. Schools are pivotal in developing both a pipeline for cybersecurity professionals and establishing cyber hygiene for students and their families.”
The cybersecurity talent gap continues to be a topic of discussion nationwide. According to cyberseek.org, the United States currently has a workforce shortage of 755,743 cybersecurity professionals.
During the conference, IHEs and school districts from across the nation will discuss workforce and cybersecurity initiatives that have positively impacted their communities and share insights into resources available to academia.
“These collaborations are key to filling cybersecurity jobs, and building an economy of resilience from the bottom up and the middle out. I hope that the event motivates leaders from across academia, industry and the public sector to further support or to become cybersecurity champions in their communities,” said Mo.
“We hope the ideas presented will spread across the nation through the NSA/DHS Centers of Academic Excellence network and that new ideas will be spawned,” added White. “Ultimately, this will increase community cybersecurity, which will improve overall security nationwide.”
In addition to Mo and White, conference speakers will include DHS/CISA Assistant Director for Stakeholder Engagement Alaina Clark, DHS/CISA Texas State Cybersecurity Coordinator Ernesto Ballesteros, Women in CyberSecurity Executive Director Lynn Dohm, Ron and Cyndi Gula from the Gula Tech Foundation, and the Lead for Academic Engagement for the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education at the National Institute of Standards and Technology Davina Pruitt-Mentle, among others. The conference, hosted by the CIAS and the UTSA Cyber Center for Security and Analytics, is also supported by the university’s National Cybersecurity Collaboration Center. While the conference is now full, NSF funding enabled registration fees to be waived and stipends to be provided to academic attendees.
UTSA has long been recognized as a leader in cybersecurity. It is one of just a few universities in the nation—and the only Hispanic Serving Institution—to hold three National Center of Excellence designations from the National Security Agency and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It is also home to the only School of Data Science in the state of Texas. For more information about the conference, visit https://cias.utsa.edu/academia-conference/.