Nearly 1,000 cybersecurity experts, uniformed and civilian, are employed by the 24th Air Force within the Port San Antonio campus. Photo courtesy of Port San Antonio.

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) received a $471,549 grant from the National Security Agency (NSA) on Monday to help fund the university’s initiative to train future cyber warriors.

UTSA is one of six schools across the nation participating in the Army Reserve-sponsored Cyber Private Public Partnership Initiative (P3i), which aims to train army reservists, whether they’re just joining or transitioning out of the Army Reserves, to meet the public sector’s increasing need for cyber defense personnel. The NSA’s grant will provide scholarships to students enrolling in undergraduate and graduate degrees in UTSA’s top-ranked, interdisciplinary cybersecurity program.

The program will benefit wounded veterans as well. Glenn Dietrich, Ph.D., professor of information systems and cybersecurity at the UTSA College of Business and the P3i program’s principal investigator, told the Rivard Report that he hopes to enroll 15-20 veterans in the program next semester through a partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project. In addition to the undergraduate and graduate degrees offered at UTSA’s cybersecurity program, the university offers several certificate programs that Dietrich believes would be a good fit for veterans who lack prior experience in cybersecurity to quickly acquire the foundational skills required for a job in the industry. 

Speaking to the vote of confidence in the university’s nationally-recognized program the NSA grant represents, UTSA President Ricardo Romo stated in a press release that the funding is “another affirmation of the integral role UTSA plays in cybersecurity education and the protection of our country.”

In addition to underwriting cybersecurity education, the NSA funding will go toward the construction of a new laboratory, which is scheduled to be completed in time for the start of the Spring 2017 semester. The laboratory will house hands-on training exercises for P3i participants and their classmates as well as cutting-edge research on the defense of the digital systems that monitor and control the distribution of the nation’s essential resources. Researchers and students will develop strategies for preventing and responding to cyber assaults on the United State’s petroleum, electricity, and water supply lines – all of which heavily rely on computer systems that are prime targets for cyber attacks.

“As cyber threats to businesses, the government, and private individuals continue to grow, San Antonio’s role in preparing those who are on the digital frontlines is absolutely critical,” U.S. Rep. Joaquín Castro stated in a news release. “I’m proud this essential, sophisticated work is happening in our city.”

Top image: Nearly 1,000 cybersecurity experts, uniformed and civilian, are employed by the 24th Air Force within the Port San Antonio campus.  Photo courtesy of Port San Antonio.

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Mason Stark

Mason Stark

Rivard Report intern Mason Stark graduated from Trinity University in May 2016 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy and a minor in arts, letters, and enterprise.