SEPTEMBER 10, 2021 — The University of Texas at San Antonio’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Center for Government Contracting (CGC) is bringing its resources and its experience to the Institute of Cybersecurity and Innovation (ICSI). The center is a new program of the North East Independent School District (NEISD) that is giving students real-world experience in the cybersecurity field.
Terri Williams, associate regional director of the CGC, is leading her center’s support of the program, which matches students with small business owners so that they can serve as risk management personnel and provide input on cybersecurity matters.
“Our center has cybersecurity expertise and we look forward to mentoring opportunities in the future,” said Williams, who is a volunteer board member of the NEISD.
Williams said that when she saw the opportunity for the CGC to support the school district’s new institute, she offered to connect the school with companies her center has worked with to participate in the program. A specialty center of the South West Texas Border SBDC Network, the CGC assists small business owners with employer services, emergency preparedness and cybersecurity needs.
The CGC will provide its experience in cybersecurity to serve as mentors to students and to oversee class assignments taking place at the institute, explained Williams, who added that she looks forward to finding more ways her center can assist the ISCI in the future.
The CGC and the SBDC are two of several centers hosted by the UTSA Institute for Economic Development, which is dedicated to creating jobs, growing businesses and fostering economic development.
Today’s students were born and raised in the age of digital technology, making them digital natives. The ISCI will not only enhance students’ skills, it will also prepare them for college and their futures. For small businesses owners, the program is an opportunity to receive assistance in mitigating risks and building cybersecurity plans.
The ISCI’s simulated mission control allows students to experience the world of cybersecurity in real time. Workstations equipped with computers and global maps displayed on large flat-screen monitors on the walls provide an opportunity to assess live cyber threats. “So many students, the community, the state and country will benefit from this,” Williams said.
With cyber attacks on the rise, so is the demand for talent and the need to prepare the next generation of cybersecurity experts. Cybersecurity Magazine cited a recent CISCO study that found more than half (52%) of small businesses do not have a full-time IT security employee. If an attack occurred, a majority (83%) of small and medium-sized businesses would not be “financially prepared to recover from a cyber attack.”
For the students of NEISD who attend the ICSI and experience its cybersecurity learning, they indeed have a wonderful opportunity to gain a head start in a rewarding and much-needed career field.
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