Cybersecurity is increasingly central to our lives. The expansion of the O’Neil Cybersecurity Education and Research Center, launched this week, will address the criticality and strategic importance of cybersecurity by focusing on the education and training of the next generation of cybersecurity experts.
On May 5, UCCS celebrated a ribbon-cutting of the O’Neil Center that will expand and improve cybersecurity education resources for not only students and faculty, but the community and cybersecurity organizations across the nation, adding over 20,000 square feet to the burgeoning facility.
The new area will be used to house all cybersecurity classes in the College of Engineering and Applied Science in the fall. Over time, the facility will host activities and interdisciplinary cybersecurity classes that support degrees and programs from the Colleges of Business; Education; Letters, Arts & Sciences and the School of Public Affairs.
National Cyber Director Chris Inglis not only helped cut the ribbon, but also served as the keynote speaker at the event.
“We need cybersecurity for the same reason that race cars need bigger brakes: to go faster,” Inglis said. “Cybersecurity enables the technology, from power grids to satellites, that we rely on each day. As the inaugural National Cyber Director, I am working to ensure we have the technology, policy, and people in place to protect our digital assets and enjoy the benefits of an interconnected society.”
The event was kicked off with an introduction from UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy, who underscored the importance of partnership – those who made the O’Neil Center possible, and those who join UCCS within its walls to evangelize cybersecurity in the community and nationally.
“The UCCS cybersecurity facility has grown and transformed over the years to serve as a great asset for our community,” said Reddy. “This double ribbon-cutting marks a milestone: Our expanded cybersecurity spaces, including the new Kevin W. O’Neil Cybersecurity Education and Research Center and the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center, will spark opportunities for UCCS students, faculty, staff, alumni and our community. UCCS is primed to meet the cybersecurity needs of our region, from education and research partnerships to developing the cybersecurity workforce of the future.”
The expansion of the O’Neil Center for Cybersecurity was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), part of the US Department of Commerce, under the direction of U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo.
That $2.75 million grant was matched by Lane Foundation, Anschutz Foundation, and El Pomar Foundation for a total of $5.4 million to make this shining new resource possible. According to the Assistant Secretary, the cybersecurity investment at UCCS is precisely the kind of project EDA supports.
“The O’Neil Center for Cybersecurity will play a critical role in cybersecurity workforce development,” she said. “Building a strong, highly-skilled workforce is paramount to advancing the field and creating new opportunities for students and the community.”
Thanks to this expansion, UCCS cybersecurity students, staff and faculty will have state-of-the-art classrooms, six research labs for graduate students and faculty, collaboration space, an executive conference room (for doctoral degree classes and Regents’ meetings), cybersecurity partner meeting and event space, and faculty and program office space.
These resources are poised to train UCCS’ talent pool who will then go on to protect and defend our community, state, and nation.
To learn more about cybersecurity programs and education pathways at UCCS, visit the Cybersecurity Program Office.