Through partnerships with companies, nonprofits, K-12 schools and city, state, and federal entities, University of Louisiana System institutions have made a lasting impact on the future of the state through their commitment to creating a north Louisiana cyber hub with national impacts.
“From the beginning, our contribution to solving the national challenge of cyber security has focused on students,” said Dr. Jim Henderson, ULS President and CEO. “We are seeing remarkable success achieved through partnerships across north Louisiana. Our K-12 students are being prepared better, our university students are engaged in relevant scholarship and research, and our graduates are fueling economic growth and investment in this vital industry sector.”
Initiatives at both Grambling State University and Louisiana Tech University have increased the number of graduates in the high-demand fields of cyber engineering and cyber security. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand in this high-paying field – graduates’ median salary is $103,000 per year – is estimated to grow 33 percent in the next 10 years. Those percentages are even higher in north Louisiana because of the high-tech companies being attracted here.
“Our work in cyber is having many positive impacts and improving lives in north Louisiana,” said Louisiana Tech President Dr. Les Guice. “We are working to transform our area by plowing resources into our students, and they are rewarding our region and our state by choosing to stay here to live, work, and invest in our communities. Cyber is helping to stop our best and brightest from leaving the state for opportunities elsewhere.”
Louisiana Tech launched the first Cyber Engineering degree program in the country in 2012, and enrollment in the program has grown 752 percent in the past 10 years. Grambling launched its Cybersecurity program in 2019 and has experienced a 97 percent growth in enrollment in the program since that time. Other degree options at both institutions are also serving the growth of this industry sector.
“Grambling State University has seen extraordinary growth in our Cybersecurity program in the past two years, and I believe we are only scratching the surface of what our students can do when given the opportunity in this field,” said GSU President Rick Gallot. “We are starting to see the first graduates of our program go out and find successful careers protecting companies, our government, and individuals.”
Both Louisiana Tech and Grambling provide opportunities for research into the unique needs of government and businesses in relation to cyber. The universities have also worked together to increase opportunities for students in K-12 schools to learn about cyber before they reach college age. Cyber.org, located in the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City, is the leading national provider for cyber curricula and other resources for K-12 teachers.
The initial commitment to cyber has grown into partnerships with the Department of Defense to provide training and support for Air Force Global Strike Command in Bossier City, the creation of a National Cyber Research Park, and the Cyber Innovation Center in Bossier City.
“Investing in cyber has helped alleviate the challenges we see with the cyclical nature of the industries our state has traditionally depended on,” said Craig Spohn, Executive Director of the Cyber Innovation Center. “Higher education has even contributed to the modernization of our military forces through our partnerships with the Department of Defense and Barksdale Air Force Base on research and training.”
The Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System listened to a presentation about the System’s contribution to Cyber during its February Board Meeting. That presentation can be viewed here.