The University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock), the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) and Forge Institute announced Wednesday (Dec. 1) the establishment of the Consortium for Cyber Innovation (CCI).
The new endeavor aims to develop and align cyber education and growing applied research capabilities in the state of Arkansas.
“We’re extremely excited to build this collaboration with Forge Institute,” said Dr. Brian Berry, vice provost for research and dean of the Graduate School at UA Little Rock. “We view cybersecurity as an important field of study for our students, and the expertise Forge Institute lends offers a real-world perspective that can’t be simulated in the classroom.”
Through Forge Institute’s real-world expertise and programs and partnering with Arkansas companies and the two universities, the consortium moves forward a strategic industry cluster in emerging technologies to support national defense and enhance Arkansas as a Cyber Defense State.
“The Consortium for Cyber Innovation is monumental to developing our high-tech workforce and developing new capabilities to prevent, detect and mitigate emerging technology risks to businesses, including our nation’s critical infrastructure,” said Lee Watson, CEO of the Forge Institute. “Both campuses already have outstanding undergraduate and graduate Computer Science programs, cybersecurity resources, and world-class faculty. We’re excited to lend our expertise to this very important endeavor which will help fill the coming 3.4 million job gap.”
An immediate goal of the CCI is to create a Strategic Initiative Office (SIO) with the goal of sourcing funded grant resources for building applied learning and research experiences for students, faculty and industry, developing new innovation opportunities, and facilitating technology transfer capabilities quickly. The SIO will allow the consortium to obtain and manage large-scale federal funding for creating a sustainable network of education and research efforts in emerging technology and national defense.
Future research projects will include developing next-generation artificial intelligence capabilities to manage cybersecurity threats to both critical infrastructure and military and national defense networks. Advanced machine learning technologies will increase efficiency and expand near-term industry use of readily-available quantum computing capabilities.
“Developing the computer science and cybersecurity workforce in the Arkansas Delta is a priority for us. The CCI helps us accomplish this objective by collaborating with excellent partners within the cyber community,” said Dr. Monsour Mortazavi, vice chancellor for research, innovation and economic development at UAPB.
The CCI builds on existing partnerships among the Forge Institute, UA Little Rock, and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (U of A) that have already resulted in National Security Agency (NSA)-funded academic training and research programs.