South Florida Tech HubSouth Florida Tech Hub

By Nikki Cabus

PBSC and 3 other South Florida universities receive $6.2M in cybersecurity funding with support from Tech Hub

Read Time 6 Minutes

Palm Beach State College was awarded more than $1 million by the state of Florida as part of a $15.6 million initiative to prepare students and mid-career professionals for jobs in the burgeoning fields of cybersecurity and information technology.

In total, four South Florida universities including Florida Atlantic University, Miami Dade College, Florida International University, and Palm Beach State College received $6.2M in state funding through the Cyber/IT Pathways Grant program.

Cybersecurity jobs are expected to grow by a faster-than-average 33 percent over the next 10 years, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report cited by the governor’s office. In addition, cybersecurity-related job postings have increased by 43 percent in the past year, as reported by the CyberSeek website.

The Palm Beach Collaborative Cyber Pathway Project is one of 24 funded through a joint endeavor of the FLDOE and the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, housed at the University of South Florida. It was selected from 67 proposals vying for a piece of $15.6 million allocated by the Florida Legislature this year to prepare more students to pursue careers in cybersecurity and address state and national workforce needs.

With dozens in attendance, college and school district officials formally announced the Palm Beach Collaborative Cyber Pathway Project at a kickoff event in the Center for Bachelor’s Programs on the Lake Worth campus Aug. 25.

The celebration included remarks from Don Gladney, Interim Dean of Bachelor’s Degree Programs, Dr, Ava Parker, President of Palm Beach State College, Mike Burke, Superintendent for The School District of Palm Beach County, Deana Pizzo, CEO at I.T. Solutions South Florida, Henry Mack, Senior Chancellor at Florida Department of Education, Julia Dattolo, CEO of CareerSource Palm Beach County, and Nikki Cabus, CEO at South Florida Tech Hub.

“We owe an immense amount of gratitude to the governor and the Legislature for appropriating these funds,” said Henry Mack, Ed.D., senior chancellor for the Florida Department of Education where he oversees the Divisions of Career and Adult Education, Florida Colleges, Blind Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the Commission for Independent Education.

“The most exciting thing is the alignment of the curriculums across the sectors to ensure seamless transfer and provide an accelerated pathway into the workforce for the students in Palm Beach County.”

During the one-year project, the school district’s curriculum for cybersecurity and information technology will be aligned with that of Palm Beach State College’s to provide students with the appropriate training programs, certifications, degree programs, and education pathways to acquire cybersecurity skills to work at all levels from entry-level technical positions to high level security leadership and management positions.

The project will enhance technology in some high schools and provide professional development and resources for K-12 teachers and PBSC professors.

The projects four objectives are:

  1. Increase the number of students enrolled in SDPBC and PBSC Cyber/IT Pathway programs by 5% in August 2023 compared to August 2022;
  2. Increase the number of industry certifications and degrees earned by SDPBC and PBSC students programs by 5% in August 2023 compared to 2022;
  3. Create articulated curriculum that aligns instruction at SDPBC with course objectives at PBSC programs by August 2023; and
  4. Increase student job readiness through participation in experimental learning programs by 95% or targeted students by August 2023.

Mike Burke, superintendent of Palm Beach County schools, spoke about his excitement for the grant because it will help students stay up to date on cybersecurity/IT issues and solutions. Before becoming superintendent, he was responsible for the district’s information technology division as its CFO.

“As the former CFO, I recognize the value and importance of cybersecurity/IT,” said Burke. “We are heavily dependent on all of our IT systems. We really can’t operate our schools without them. In cybersecurity, the work is never done. You have to continually invest and reinvest to make sure you’ve got the right staff and the right hardware and software, and I appreciate the state making this type of investment.”

Palm Beach County remains a major cybersecurity IT center and a cluster of more than 600 technology and support businesses employing more than 15,000 workers. Employment outlook data from EMSI indicates that Palm Beach County will have over 2,500 job openings over the next three years in IT fields with wages averaging $52.80 per hour, or over $100k in a full-time salary role. In Florida, a 12.9% increase is expected as almost one-fifth of the workforce are at or near retirement age.

As the president and CEO of CareerSource, Julia Dattalo knows the dire need to get workers into the pipeline for these critical fields. “When we get a job order at CareerSource now even in the agriculture industry every job order asks for knowledge in computer software,” Dattalo said.

“There are so many apps out there. We are shopping on apps, we are working on apps. We’ve gone from an eight-hour day in the workplace to a remote workforce and that means technology has to follow us. With that technology comes problems like malware and cybersecurity attacks. We have to protect our information, and we need people to help us do that.”

Deana Pizzo, PBSC alumna, CEO of I.T. Solutions, Board Member for South Florida Tech Hub, and member of the PBSC Bachelor of Applied Science Degree Programs Advisory Board, brought two of her interns, Collin Passmore and Gavin Pizzo, to the celebration. The project will help her hire more interns like Passmore, a junior network engineer at I.T. Solutions for the past two and a half year, and get them into the workforce.

“I could not be prouder to be the voice and represent our local business community and work with the College to figure out what we need,” she said. “It’s a fast-growing community, and I’m happy to be here representing that.”

Passmore, who graduated from PBSC with an Associate in Arts degree this year, took speech and computer technology classes at PBSC and says what he is learning in the classroom helps on the job.

“Those classes were great because the things I was learning such as how to install desktop software and how to better speak to clients, I was able to directly apply to my job at I.T. Solutions.”

Nikki Cabus, PBSC alumna and CEO of South Florida Tech Hub, a nonprofit organization that provides resources for tech development, lauded the partnership. South Florida Tech Hub supported the grant application. One component of the grant was regional coordination between higher education and the school districts which Tech Hub highly supports.

“Every single company that comes to us is asking for talent and how they can educate that talent and find their students opportunities for internships and apprenticeship programs, which is why it is so important for us to support this grant that will help us provide them that,” said Cabus.

“The only way we are going to truly move the needle in regards to tech talent is through collaboration. This is not a city or county issue, but an issue for the entire state,” stated Tech Hub CEO, Nikki Cabus.

The SDPBC’s six Cybersecurity Academies are located at Palm Beach Central High School, Wellington High School, West Boca Raton High School, Santaluces High School, John I. Leanard High School, and Jupiter High School, and they are housed in seven under-resourced classrooms with outdated computers. The focus will be on these schools, as well as students and instructors at other schools in the county.

To learn more on PBSC’s STEM Career Pathways, visit https://www.palmbeachstate.edu/career-pathways/pathway-stem/

See more photos from the event here. 📸

 

By Nikki Cabus

FAU Receives State Cybersecurity IT Grant for over $800K with support from Tech Hub

Read Time 5 Minutes

Florida Atlantic University was awarded more than $800,000 by the state of Florida as part of a $15.6 million initiative to prepare students and mid-career professionals for jobs in the burgeoning fields of cybersecurity and information technology.

The $838,483 grant will help FAU market and grow existing cybersecurity, cryptology and business management certification courses and programs in the College of Business, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science and the College of Engineering and Computer Science. These undergraduate and graduate courses, as well as programs, will help address a labor market shortage by encouraging more people to pursue careers in these fields.

South Florida Tech Hub, a regional technology nonprofit supported the grant application. One component of the grant was regional coordination between higher education and the school districts which Tech Hub highly supports. While each of the colleges features its own cybersecurity program and set of courses, they are uniquely linked, providing flexibility to meet the needs of students. “The only way we are going to truly move the needle in regards to tech talent is through collaboration. This is not a city or county issue, but an issue for the entire state,” stated Tech Hub CEO, Nikki Cabus.

The two main geographic regions for the statewide grant were the Greater Tampa Bay area and the Greater Miami Area, including the following counties: Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach and the following educational institutions: Florida International University, Miami-Dade Public Schools, Broward County Schools, Palm Beach County Schools, Miami Dade College, Broward College, and Palm Beach State College.

Florida Atlantic University, in collaboration with Broward College and Palm Beach State College, will use the grant money to fund CAREERS in Cybersecurity. The project aims to provide curricular enhancements, expanded industry collaboration and internships, K-12 outreach activities, an interactive and informative website, and a regional mass marketing campaign to reach all interested students and workers in the community.

“This is a powerful partnership, having three colleges [FAU, BC, and PBSC] work together with industry to increase the cybersecurity workforce,” said Nancy Romance, Ed.D., FAU’s principal investigator in the College of Engineering and Computer Science and co-author of the grant proposal.

FAU will work with South Florida Tech Hub who will assist in finding career opportunities for those who complete the courses and certificate programs.

“Tech Hub has many great initiatives that involve postsecondary (e.g., Postsecondary Education Committee; the Talent Committee) as well as almost weekly events across the region,” stated Dr. Romance. “With over 240 member companies across South Florida, Tech Hub has been a great sponsor and has been a main agent increasing industry support of education across all grade spans.”

The funding comes from a joint effort of the Florida Department of Education, Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Center for Cybersecurity. According to the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, or Cyber Florida, “The purpose of the Expanding Cybersecurity and Information Technology Pathways program is to increase the number of trained and/or educated workers in Florida that are prepared to fill cybersecurity/information technology (IT) jobs in the state and the Nation.”

Cybersecurity jobs are expected to grow by a faster-than-average 33 percent over the next 10 years, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report cited by the governor’s office. In addition, cybersecurity-related job postings have increased by 43 percent in the past year, as reported by the CyberSeek website.

“The CAREERS project provides all students and interested adults with a viable pathway to successful, high-quality jobs in cybersecurity, while also addressing the critical shortage of workers in these fields,” said Hari Kalva, Ph.D., co-author of the grant proposal and associate chair and professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Dr. Kalva is also on the South Florida Tech Hub Board of Directors and has been involved in other tech talent initiatives with the nonprofit through the Talent Committee. One recent initiative is the FenwayPipeline™  program addressing the shortage of talent by bridging the talent gap through a mentorship program for local tech students.

FAU’s cybersecurity grant award will help the Department of Information Technology and Operations Management in the College of Business enhance its existing cybersecurity-related curriculum, said Nataliia Neshenko, Ph.D., a co-author of the grant proposal. “Today’s cybersecurity reality calls for a close collaboration between academia and industry to address the shortage of highly skilled professionals,” she said.

The Charles E. Schmidt College of Science approaches cybersecurity from perhaps its most technical side, cryptography, according to Edoardo Persichetti, Ph.D., another co-author. He said the college has four cryptography professors, but a lagging enrollment in those classes. “This grant is a very important step toward establishing a healthy increase in the number of students and professionals in cybersecurity in the College of Science,” he said.

Across Florida, the following projects have been selected for funding through the Cyber/IT Pathways Grant program:

  • Project HaHa – FIU
  • Expanding Cybersecurity & IT Pathways – Miami Dade College
  • First Coast Cybersecurity & IT Pathways Project – FSCJ
  • Increasing Cyber Technicians 2022 – HCC
  • Hal Marcus College of Science & Engineering – UWF
  • Cloud Computing Initiative – St. Petersburg College
  • FIU Minecraft-based Cybersecurity Professional Development for K12 Teachers
  • CyberSkills2Work Florida/Center for Cybersecurity – UWF
  • Palm Beach Collaborative Cyber Pathway Project – Palm Beach State College
  • Expanding Cybersecurity & IT Pathways – Hillsborough County Public Schools
  • Hybrid-honeynet platform for CTI education – UNF
  • Cybersecurity Pathway for Public and Nonprofit Organizations – FIU
  • SCF Cyber/IT Pathway – State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota
  • SLPS Cybersecurity at LPA – St. Lucie County School Board
  • Cyber Security Lab – Florida Gateway College
  • Enhancing the Growth and Quality of Cybersecurity Programs (EGQCP) – FL Poly
  • Expanding the pipeline of the Cyber/IT workforce – USF
  • Applied Cybersecurity Fundamentals Continuing Education – Cape Coral Technical College
  • CAREERS in Cybersecurity – FAU
  • Towards Empowering the Next Generation of Cyber Professionals/Pathways – USF
  • Cyber Threat Intelligence Fellowship Program – FIU
  • The Modernization of Digital Information Technology – USF
  • Cybercrime Investigation Training for Florida Law Enforcement Officers – USF
  • Cybersecurity Professional Pathways for Women and URM – FAMU

“The 24 projects that will be funded through this $15.6 million are anticipated to train 27,000 Florida students over the next year. Click here to view the list of awards,” reads a Press Release from flgov.com. “In Florida, Governor DeSantis has prioritized cybersecurity, providing resources to our institutions to meet the demand of cybersecurity professionals,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz. “Raising awareness and interest in cybersecurity at the K-12 and postsecondary levels is crucial to meet the needs of businesses across Florida and create pathways for students to gain employment with a sustainable salary right after high school.”

Click here to view a complete list of each of the awards.

By Nikki Cabus

Industry leaders and researchers brought together for the FAU Data Science Conference

Read Time 3 Minutes

Back in person for the first time since the pandemic, the Florida Atlantic University Data-Driven Science & AI Conference brought together industry leaders, students, and researchers from multiple industries. This is the fourth conference for the Schmidt College of Science and the first year the conference attracted support from the National Science Foundation!

“The conference was reshaped this year to meet the growth of the Schmidt College of Science as well as the dynamic tech, data and AI community we work with in South Florida,” said William Kalies, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Conference Chair. “The funding provided by the NSF enabled us to conduct this conference again and provide opportunities for our local industry to interact with our researchers and students to spark future collaborations, internship and career opportunities.”

Throughout the day-long event, participants had the opportunity to attend two panel discussions, six themed minisymposium sessions, ranging from the use of AI in chemistry and molecular medicine to the urban applications of data science, enjoy a student research poster competition, learn about opportunities in the community through Tech Hub South Florida, and had multiple opportunities for learning and networking.

Twenty-six students from FAU High School and FAU’s undergraduate and graduate programs exhibited their research at the conference. Three students, Kayla Ahlness, Dawn Raja Somu, and Deepika Regmi, earned recognition for their studies from faculty judges.

The conference included two sponsored panel sessions by South Florida Tech Hub, including the Health Tech panel that discussed, “Digital Transformation and Data-Driven Insight in Healthcare” with leaders in healthcare technology. This panel had a packed room of students, researchers and faculty interested in hearing about “Where We Are and Where We’re Going” in healthtech.

Meggie Soliman, Director of Strategic Innovations at DSS, Inc. opened up the conversation with a presentation and followed by moderating the discussion with panelists, Pete Martinez, CEO of Sivotech Bioinformatics and former IBM executive, Yenvy Truong, Founder of LSM Group, and  Christopher Kunney, Chief of Strategy & Business Development at DSS, Inc.

The Tech Career & Internship Experiences panel discussion paired recent FAU alumni with their mentors to discuss how they secured an internship and their current full-time industry positions. They also answered students’ questions and shared advice.

Panelists included Rich Viens, Chief Financial Officer at PeakActivity and former intern Valeria Tineo, now the Incoming Account Executive of Organizational Business Development at Cleveland Cavaliers, and Lakshamana Sankarakuttalam, Senior Manager IT, Enterprise Intelligence at Office Depot alongside recent FAU Alum and current Master’s student,  Jose Delgado, Software Developer at Office Depot.

The conference featured mini sessions highlighting everything from “The Impact of AI in Financial Market Investment Strategies” to “Topological Data Analysis Algorithms in Robot Motion Planning.” The final keynote talk of the day was Daniel Uribe, MBA, Co-Founder & CEO, GenoBank.io, and active Tech Hub member. His talk was titled “BioNFTs: Enabling Decentralized Consented Genomics in the Metaverse” discussing the biodata provenance journey with an ethical risk analysis of who benefits, who is at risk, and who decides on the biological assets (biosamples + biodata) and the introduction of Biological Non-Fungible Tokens or BioNFTs that resolve in a public blockchain.

This year marked the return to an in-person event for the first time since 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the last conference was held virtually in 2020. The last conference was successfully supported by the local Boca Raton company, TechStrong Group and Media Ops, which ensured it could be attended virtually. We are already looking forward to 2023!

Student Kerry-Ann Bartley shares how the M.S. in Data Science and Analytics program in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science provides training in analytic tools, preparing students with transferrable real world skills.

By Nikki Cabus

FAU student’s Bacon Boxes on Inc’s Coolest College Startup list

Read Time < 1 Minute

Florida Atlantic University student’s Logan Rae and Kimberly Hruda have landed a spot on Inc. Magazine’s Coolest College Startups list with their delectable business startup Bacon Boxes.

 

Logan Rae, a neuroscience student, made a bacon bouquet resembling roses for a friend’s birthday; that’s when she realized she was onto something innovative and original. Hruda, another FAU student had met Rae through friends, she also recognized the business potential of the bacon bouquets and decided to join forces with Rae and the two quickly became business partners. The two FAU students worked very hard to get their bacon bouquets on the market before Valentine’s day.  A task that required over 100 hours of work per week.

One year later, the company relocated to an industrial kitchen in Boca Raton. Bacon Boxe’s signature product, the Bacon Bouquet are all crafted using high quality ingredients that are free of hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. Boxes ship nationwide and come in an assortment of flavors.

Rae and Hruda will also be providing duck, lamb and venison bacon varieties. The company offers a special occasion collection for baby showers, birthdays, weddings, or anniversaries.

Bacon Boxes has been featured on major news and media sources such as CBS12, Fox News, ABC7, Good Morning America, the Knot, and Yahoo.

VOTE FOR BACON BOXES

By Nikki Cabus

Florida Atlantic University hosting Entrepreneur Bootcamp

Read Time < 1 Minute

The Entrepreneur BootCamp is a fast-paced certificate course empowering promising entrepreneurs and ambitious small business owners with the tools to write a successful business plan, find financial backing and design a blueprint for success!

Fall 2016: September 19 – November 21

Spring 2017: January 23 – April 3

Upon completion of the Boot Camp you will be prepared to enter the prestigious FAU Business Plan Competition and compete to fund your business*.

Open to all students, sta and the community

FAU Student $50 | FAU Alumni or Sta $100 | Community $200

For more information or to register visit business.fau.edu/bootcamp or email adamscenter@fau.edu.
* At least 1 member of the team entering the Business Plan Competition must be a fully enrolled FAU student.

FAU Tech Runway’s Maverick Reception 2022
SAVE THE DATE: FAU Tech Runway’s Maverick Reception
FAU Entrepreneur Boot Camp
PBSC and 3 other South Florida universities receive $6.2M in cybersecurity funding with support from Tech Hub
FAU Receives State Cybersecurity IT Grant for over $800K with support from Tech Hub
Industry leaders and researchers brought together for the FAU Data Science Conference
FAU student’s Bacon Boxes on Inc’s Coolest College Startup list
Florida Atlantic University hosting Entrepreneur Bootcamp