DECEMBER 14, 2020 — UTSA and Port San Antonio today announced they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will accelerate the organizations’ ongoing efforts to expand the region’s already substantial cybersecurity and data analytics research and development ecosystem and increase workforce education and training, further establishing it as one of the world’s leading technology innovation communities.
The MOU formalizes UTSA as the port’s principal academic partner and emphasizes the shared goal of strengthening their IT and cybersecurity expertise, which is increasingly required by the defense community and mature industry sectors globally.
Among priority R&D areas outlined in the MOU are critical infrastructure protection and security, automation and robotics, space sciences and hypersonics, artificial intelligence, data science and visualization, cloud computing, cybersecure manufacturing and supply-chain security.
“In our increasingly connected world, there are countless exciting opportunities to connect information security and data science expertise to global industries,” said Port San Antonio President and CEO Jim Perschbach. “Whether it is to safeguard networks and data that are fundamental to our defense and private sectors or to develop and launch new digital technologies that make industries more productive and safer while developing the skills of a new generation of tech talent, San Antonio’s standing as a leading provider of these solutions and educational paths will be further strengthened by the commitment of UTSA and the port to work in an increasingly focused and cohesive manner.”
UTSA is a leading public research institution that specializes in cybersecurity, biomedicine, advanced materials and social-economic transformation. For more than 20 years the university has been growing its capacities and expanding its expertise in cyber, cloud, computing and analytics. Today UTSA is home to the nation’s leading academic program in cybersecurity, where more than 70 researchers specialize in a variety of disciplines spanning computer science, computer engineering, and information assurance and security. As a distinguished Hispanic Serving Institution, UTSA has educational programs in this area that are also known for the diversity of workforce talent they produce.
The university’s researchers have expertise in the privacy and security of Internet of Things devices, data analytics, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and adaptive human-computer interaction in augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality domains. This work is coordinated in 15 research centers and institutes, including the National Security Collaboration Center, the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute, the Center for Advanced Measurements in Extreme Environments and the Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security.
“UTSA is providing the highest quality education and research to prepare undergraduate and graduate students for the jobs of the future, including jobs that will further enable San Antonio to tackle the nation’s grandest challenges in national security, data science and applied technology,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “We are appreciative of our long and deep collaboration with Port San Antonio and we anticipate this enhanced partnership will provide UTSA students and faculty with new resources and research pathways, new opportunities for collaboration and new experiential learning and teaching opportunities that enable meaningful and innovative research and development.”
Complementing the university’s strengths is the port’s large technology campus, a unique platform for the convergence of advanced industries and academic endeavors. Today it is home to top names in aerospace, cybersecurity, defense, critical infrastructure protection, AI, robotics, medicine and logistics—each focused on delivering innovations that propel public, commercial, academic and industry priorities.
The port is also home to the newly formed Alamo Regional Security Collaboration Center—an initiative between the port, City of San Antonio and local utility CPS Energy. It is the nation’s first fully integrated effort to safeguard data and information technology assets on behalf of utilities and local governments.
Together UTSA and the port will focus on supporting collaborative research, education and workforce development. As the port’s premier academic partner, UTSA will lead efforts to supply research and academic capabilities in cybersecurity, data analytics, machine learning/AI and cybersecure manufacturing within the port’s ecosystem. These activities will be part of work conducted by UTSA’s School of Data Science, NSCC, CyManII and other research initiatives.
The port’s contributions will provide the university greater access and connectivity to cybersecurity testbeds, infrastructure resiliency, power systems engineering and robotics capabilities. The partners will also explore co-location of research and education activities within the port ecosystem.
The port and the NSCC share several industry and federal partners working on both independent and overlapping projects. The MOU allows great flexibility and collaboration among shared partners while ensuring necessary intellectual property safeguards. This mutual ecosystem includes the Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber), the National Security Agency, Army and Air Force Research Laboratories, the Department of Energy National Laboratories, and more than 40 additional federal, industry and academic partners.
Within the next three years the two organizations’ combined capabilities and expertise will be leveraged to build new research programs, educate and train undergraduate and graduate students and researchers, and advance new science and cutting-edge technologies to secure U.S. critical infrastructure. The partnership between UTSA and Port San Antonio will also allow highly competitive research and education teams to pursue larger and more complex funding requests and increase opportunities for collaboration and multidisciplinary research.
Currently both organizations are advocating jointly as part of the community’s bid for the U.S. Department of Defense to locate U.S. Space Command headquarters in San Antonio. Among the region’s key assets are UTSA’s space-focused research institutes, including the Center of Advanced Measurements in Extreme Environments and the Laboratory for Remote Sensing and Geoinformatics, both supported by NASA funding.
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