New Cyber Institute opens

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis (left) and guests attend the ribbon-cutting and opening ceremony of the Cyber Institute in the Universiy Hall at Augusta University on Sept. 16. (Photo: Jamie Sapp)
Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis (left) and guests attend the ribbon-cutting and opening ceremony of the Cyber Institute in the Universiy Hall at Augusta University on Sept. 16. (Photo: Jamie Sapp)

By Jamie Sapp | Editor-in-Chief

It was a great, sunny Friday morning as students, faculty and community members joined in the opening ceremony of the new Cyber Institute in University Hall of Augusta University at 11 a.m. on Sept. 16.

The crowd of people filled the first floor of the University Hall with laughter and grand excitement. At the opening ceremony, it highlighted the greatest effort and dedication into creating the new Cyber Institute at the university.

Gretchen Caughman, executive vice president and provost for academic affairs, greeted the audience with welcoming remarks before introducing the guest speakers at the ceremony.

“So we embark on the very intentional path to build strength and capacity in the cybersecurity education and to establish meaningful partners with the military, government and industry, to capitalize on this unprecedented chance to become a national leader in the field,” she said. “And we’ve been busy.”

Caughman listed numerous events that occurred within the years leading up to the opening ceremony of the Cyber Institute, including the university’s first Cyber Education Summit in October 2014; the creation of the Cyber Institute in June 2015; and new Augusta University President Brooks Keel in July 2015.

After thanking the audience for attending the ceremony, President Brooks Keel said that anytime a ribbon-cutting event occurs it is a great day, describing it as “the birth of a child.”

“It’s a new opportunity for great things that you know are going to come, as that child grows up,” he said. “This ribbon-cutting today is, of course, the birth of our own child. We are looking forward to how this child is going to develop… how it’s going to help us do the things that we know we need to do with at Augusta University to support the cyber command at Fort Gordon and support all the areas of cyber throughout the United States.”

President Keel said a cyber tsunami is hitting Augusta University, and AU and the community must prepare for it.

“We got to make Augusta not just a military-friendly town, which we’ve always been and are so proud of that,” he said. “But we got to make it a business-friendly town for all of the cybersecurity contractors… and Augusta University plays a significant role in that.”

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis attended the opening ceremony. He said what a great day for the Cyber Institute.

“Augusta’s economy has historically been known for medicine, the Masters, the military, and manufacturing,” Davis said. “When you think about where we are today on the very edge of what’s happening from a cyber perspective and now to be able to proper up a cyber institute here, our region’s destiny has been totally transformed for the next several generations.”

U.S. Representative Rick Allen of Georgia 12th District said the Cyber Institute is the new frontier in modern warfare.

“The growth of this is going to be astronomical as we defend our country, our cyberspace and our entire infrastructure over years to come,” Allen said. “With the U.S. Army cyber commands transition to Fort Gordon, numerous tech companies and jobs coming to our area now for the opening of the Cyber Institute, the CSRA has the potential to become the security, technology and innovation of the southeast.”

Maj. Gen. John B. Morrison, commanding general of the U.S. Cyber Center of Excellence, said the army must work closely with industry partners and academic institutions, such as Augusta University.

“The critical importance of cyber education and research, both today and in the future, will take on new meaning,” Morrison said. “The threat is real today. The threat will only grow in the future.”

Student Matt Tennis (seated) gives a demonstration on “Hacking (Metasploit)” in the state-of-the-art cyber lab inside of the new Cyber Institute on Sept. 16. (Photo: Jamie Sapp)
Student Matt Tennis (seated) gives a demonstration on “Hacking (Metasploit)” in the state-of-the-art cyber lab inside of the new Cyber Institute on Sept. 16. (Photo: Jamie Sapp)

Cyber Institute Director Joanne Sexton gave shout-outs and closing remarks at the ceremony. Director Sexton said the ribbon-cutting ceremony marks a special day for Augusta University, for the Cyber Institute and for the students.

“In planning the Cyber Institute, I have had the privilege of being part of a very, dedicated team with membership across the university who helped plan, design and build the Cyber Institute,” Sexton said. “I am especially proud of our cyber lab that was specifically designed to teach cyber security.”

After encouraging remarks from all of the speakers, the speakers finally cut the blue ribbon. Guests entered into the Cyber Institute to observe the new facility, which includes 15 offices, the state-of-the-art cyber lab, a small bar area, and a lounge room for students.

Inside the main cyber lab, students and staff members performed different cyber lab demonstrations at five stations. The five stations consisted the following demonstrations: Network Monitoring by Harry Zane; Password Cracking by Andrew Keller; Malware Demo by Magalie Hernandez; Hacking (Metasploit) by Matt Tennis; and GenCyber Robots by Tori Lineberry and Miguel Morell.

There is more to come for the Cyber Institute as upcoming events and programs are approaching. On Oct. 12-13, Augusta University is also hosting the 2016 Cyber Georgia in the Harrison Education Commons Building at the Health Sciences campus. According to the university calendar, the theme of the cyber summit is “Industry, Academia and Government: Strengthening Cyber Security.”

Contact Jamie Sapp at jsapp270@augusta.edu.

Published on October 5, 2016 in Vol. 59, Issue 1 of The Bell Ringer newspaper.

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