Gov. Edwards announces Cyber Center partnership in Louisiana

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BOSSIER CITY — Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards joined Chancellor Rick Bateman of Bossier Parish Community College and Chief Operations Officer Bryan Dickens of Cybint Solutions Inc. to announce a new cyber center partnership at the Northwest Louisiana college.

In a ceremony at the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City, Bateman and Dickens signed a Memorandum of Understanding committing the parties to development of a cyber center that will be located at Bossier Parish Community College’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technology. The BPCC building will host ongoing cybersecurity training, credential coursework, and field exercises on a virtual cyber range for in-person trainees and online participants across the state and around the world.

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The partnership represents another technology win from the October 2018 economic development mission to Israel led by Gov. Edwards, and it arrives as 350 National Governors Association delegates are meeting in Shreveport, Louisiana, for the 2019 National Summit on State Cybersecurity. Edwards and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson are co-chairmen of the NGA Resource Center for State Cybersecurity, which organized the summit.

“Well over a decade ago, the leaders of Northwest Louisiana joined the State of Louisiana in creating the Cyber Innovation Center as an anchor of the 3,000-acre National Cyber Research Park here in Bossier City,” Gov. Edwards said. “Today, GDIT employs 800 cybersecurity professionals here because of that effort, we have a major STEM Building serving students and veterans, and shared by Bossier Parish Community College and Louisiana Tech University. We have established an I-20 Cyber Corridor stretching from this cyber hub, and the Global Strike Command of Barksdale Air Force Base, to the Fortune 500 headquarters of CenturyLink in Monroe. Today, we’re assembling another strategic asset that will make Louisiana a national and global leader in cybersecurity.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Edwards announced the formation of an Innovation and Integration Lab in Baton Rouge, a partnership of LSU’s Stephenson Technologies Corp. and Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. For the Bossier partnership, Cybint Solutions is based in New York but has its roots in cyber solutions developed by Israeli Defense Forces veterans and industry professionals. Discussions in Israel between Gov. Edwards and Cybint Solutions helped bring about the cyber center partnership in Northwest Louisiana.

“This is an exceptional honor for us,” said Cybint Solutions CEO Roy Zur. “Our collaboration with BPCC has been impactful and our entire organization has been gratified to see the enthusiasm and passion for cyber learning in this region. We look forward to the next phase.”

Over the next several months, BPCC and Cybint Solutions will formalize the cyber center structure by:

  • Meeting with faculty, companies, governmental entities and students.
  • Establishing marketing, business development and training roles.
  • Consulting key higher education partners, such as Louisiana Tech, LSU-Shreveport, Northwestern State University, Grambling State University and other Louisiana colleges and universities.
  • Developing curriculum, continuing education and work-based learning opportunities.
  • Building a financial model for revenue sharing, business development, marketing and events.

“From all of our research, we found that Cybint was the premier leader in providing a platform for hands-on cyber security education, training and simulation,” Chancellor Bateman said. “To establish such a partnership with Cybint is a win for everyone involved. Our partnership will have a far-reaching impact that benefits not only our students here at BPCC, but also students, industry partners and educational institutions across the state of Louisiana.”

A late 2017 report to President Trump from his Commerce and Homeland Security departments identified 300,000 active openings for cyber-related jobs in the U.S., with projections of a global shortage of 1.8 million cyber jobs by 2022. Louisiana’s Cyber Innovation Center operates the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center, or NICERC, which has brought cyber literacy skills to 2.5 million students and 15,000 teachers in all 50 states and three U.S. territories. By 2023, NICERC projects reaching a total of 10 million students and 50,000 teachers in K-12 schools.

The partnership led by BPCC and Cybint will reach many cybersecurity levels — from cyber literacy skills for students, to cutting-edge modules for professionals dealing with advanced cyber threats, to training for manufacturers seeking to protect their production, to full-scale training exercises on a virtual cyber range.

President Craig Spohn of the Cyber Innovation Center said the new partnership at BPCC will benefit the U.S. military as it modernizes missions in the future. Barksdale’s Global Strike Command could be a key beneficiary.

“This partnership between BPCC and Cybint Solutions should be considered more than just cyber education,” said Spohn, who serves as chairman of the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission created by Gov. Edwards in 2017. “It should be considered an asset that can contribute to next-generation warfighting. Almost every military action is going to include a cyber element in the future. Assets like this partnership will help us benchmark where we need to go, and we can then create the environments we need from a software and visualization standpoint.”