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By Nikki Cabus

Two South Florida locations chosen for Mark Cuban’s AI Bootcamp for high school students

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Two South Florida counties have been chosen for Mark Cuban’s Artificial Intelligence Bootcamp for high school students: Miami-Dade and Palm Beach county. They are two of the 30 camps being held across the United States this Fall season attracting over 600 high school students grades 9th – 12th.

Florida Power and Light will host the no cost AI bootcamp in Palm Beach County at the beautiful FPL Manatee Lagoon in West Palm Beach which is an FPL Eco-Discovery Center. The program will be targeted at high school students and introduce underserved students in grades 9 through 12 to basic AI concepts and skills. The Miami location will be hosted by Argo AI at Miami Dade College’s AI Center located in North Campus. Both bootcamps will be held over four consecutive Saturdays starting on October 22nd and ending on November 12th.

“‘FPL is proud to serve as the host company for Mark Cuban’s AI Boot Camp for students who would otherwise not have exposure to programs in STEM. Our corporate culture is focused on giving back to the communities where we live and work. We are intentional about supporting and building thriving communities for the next generation. We hope students will be inspired to pursue careers in STEM right here in South Florida,” said Grace Kurian, Executive Director of Information Technology- Nuclear at NextEra Energy, Inc. NextEra Energy owns FPL, which is the largest vertically integrated rate-regulated electric utility in the United States.

Founded by Mark Cuban in 2019, the AI Bootcamp initiative has hosted free AI bootcamps for students across several US cities, including Dallas, Pasadena, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Atlantic City to name a few. The Mark Cuban Foundation has impacted 450+ students to date and has a goal to have 1,000 students graduate from AI Bootcamps Program in 2023. These two South Florida bootcamps are the first in the region.

A Wall Street Journal article read, “Mr. Cuban’s focus on AI comes as technologists and academics attempt to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion issues within AI and the technology industry. Women and minorities are underrepresented in artificial intelligence, and experts say that’s a problem that could contribute to algorithmic bias.”

“I saw the impact of PCs. Then I saw the impact of local area networks. Then I saw the impact of wide area networks. Then I saw the impact of the Internet. Then I saw the impact of mobile. Then I saw the impact of wireless. Now I’m seeing the impact of artificial intelligence. And it dwarfs any of those things,” says Mark Cuban. “One of my goals is to really go out and find the superstars. There are so many there that are under-appreciated and don’t have access to resources.”

Aimed to increase AI literacy and understanding in students from underserved communities, the high schools students do not need any prior experience with computer science, programming, or robotics to apply and attend.

Throughout the AI Bootcamp, students will learn what artificial intelligence is and is not, where they already interact with AI in their own lives, and the ethical implications of AI systems including but not limited to TikTok recommendations, smart home assistants, facial recognition, and self-driving cars to name a few. Students will benefit from volunteer mentor instructors who are knowledgeable about data science and able to help students quickly understand material normally taught at a collegiate level.

As part of the 5-hour curriculum, students also get to work in Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, each day to build their own AI applications related to Chatbots, Computer Vision, Machine Learning, and Natural Language Processing.

The Mark Cuban Foundation provides the bootcamp’s curriculum materials, trains volunteer mentors, and recruits
and selects local students to attend camp. In addition, the Mark Cuban Foundation and each host company, Florida Power & Light and Argo, work together to provide food, transportation, and access to laptops for students at no cost throughout the duration of Bootcamp.

Applications are now open at The deadline to apply is Thursday, September 1st, 2022.

By Nikki Cabus

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

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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 “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 Riley Kaminer

Tech Hub hosts event matching K-12 teachers with local tech experts

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Fostering the next generation of South Florida talent

Last week, South Florida Tech Hub’s Talent & Education Committee hosted a virtual event to match local technologists with kindergarten through 12th grade (K-12) educators from Palm Beach and Broward counties.

K-12 mentors are volunteers from the local tech community that are matched with a K-12 classroom teacher for the remainder of the 2021-2022 academic year. Broadly speaking, the mentor will aim to enhance the classroom experience for computer science teachers and students.

This support comes in many forms, including being a sounding board to advise teachers, telling students about their profession, providing a virtual or in-person field trip for students, and co-leading workshops.

The idea behind the initiative is to forge deeper connections between the South Florida tech community and our local schools. Ultimately, this project fits into the Talent & Education Committee’s goal of getting students excited about STEAM and technology in particular.

Mihai Fonoage, Vice President of Engineering at Boca Raton-based healthtech company Modernizing Medicine and Chair of the Talent & Education Committee, expressed excitement about the event. He told South Florida Tech Hub that “seeing the fantastic interaction between the K-12 Teachers and the Industry Mentors was such a reinforcement of our shared purpose to get students excited about STEM.”

Most teachers involved are either middle school or high school computer science educators. The mentors came from a wide variety of backgrounds, including some of the world’s largest tech companies as well as local startups and scaleups.


“We are impacting the teaching and learning in the classroom by matching K12 teachers to industry professionals,” commented Sheela VanHoose, a public policy expert and Partner at The Southern Group. “This mentor matching event is a part of Tech Hub South Florida’s larger efforts to address workforce issues across our ecosystem.” VanHoose leads Tech Hub’s Talent & Education subcommittee focused on K-12 issues.

While there is a growing number of top technologists and entrepreneurs in our region, the mentorship scheme aims to bridge the gap between this talent and our local schools.


“What we heard from the school districts was that they really could use help with getting people in the tech industry to have mentorships with the teachers that were in computer science education,” noted Ashton Adler, South Florida Tech Hub’s Talent & Policy Consultant, who organized the event.

“We’ve had great feedback so far,” said Adler. “The whole event was very inspirational – for everything the computer science teachers are doing, and for encouraging students to go into tech.”

This first cohort of roughly 15 mentors and 15 mentees is a pilot program that will run until the summer. Assuming all goes well, Adler expects that the program can grow since there has been a significant amount of interest.


Want to learn more about becoming a Tech Hub member and playing your role in developing the next generation of South Florida tech talent? If so, get in touch with us via email at

Two South Florida locations chosen for Mark Cuban’s AI Bootcamp for high school students
FAU Receives State Cybersecurity IT Grant for over $800K with support from Tech Hub
Tech Hub hosts event matching K-12 teachers with local tech experts