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Cyber growth: UWF is filling a growing cyber need

The University of West Florida’s Center for Cybersecurity is taking on an expanded role as the result of a sponsorship between the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency, both of which have operations in Pensacola.

UWF has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence for the Southeast Region, and the Center for Cybersecurity will serve as a resource for all colleges and universities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee and Puerto Rico. It is one of only six academic institutions in the U.S. with that designation.

“The goal of the National Security Agency is to increase the number of qualified cybersecurity professionals by expanding the number of CAE institutions,” says Eman El-Sheikh, director of the UWF Center for Cybersecurity. “Our mission will be to provide leadership to do that in the Southeast.”

El-Sheikh says the center, launched in 2012, was started to help grow the region’s cybersecurity workforce. The center also supports local cyber assets that include the Navy’s Information Training Warfare Center at NAS Corry Station and local private sector companies such as AppRiver and Navy Federal Credit Union.

“I think the NSA recognized what we’re doing, saw the value of it to the northwest Florida region and asked us to do that for the entire Southeast,” El-Sheikh says. “It’s a true honor and huge responsibility as well.”

See other stories from Florida Trend's August issue.

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