Flint and other areas of Michigan could soon experience a cyber explosion – in the best kind of way.
Small businesses, government employees, internet technology professionals and students from kindergarten through 12th grade will all see doors to information and opportunity opened with an initiative Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to announce today.
Snyder is hosting the North American International Cyber Summit 2018 at Cobo Regional Conference Center in Detroit where he’ll share details of a collaboration designed to generate jobs in cyber-security and build career pipelines throughout the state.
“Michigan is creating innovative solutions to prevent and respond to cyber threats, including building a cyber ecosystem across all industries so the public and private sectors work more collaboratively,” says Snyder. “Today’s announcement of two new cyber hubs in Marquette and Flint further expands Michigan’s cyber ecosystem in the Upper Peninsula and Genesee County.”
Merit Network, Michigan Economic Development Corp. and educational institutions including the University of Michigan-Flint are among partners and supporters helping to spearhead the effort.
“What we know is there is a huge need in this country and in the world,” says David Merot, senior project manager of U of M-Flint’s EDA University Center for Community and Economic Development.
Citing reports, Merot says an estimated 6 million cyber security jobs are expected to be available in the country next year, but only 4.5 million will be filled.
Merit Network’s Michigan Cyber Range, which offers cyber security training and certification, is positioned to qualify state residents of the initiative’s region six, including Genesee County, to enter the field. Merot and U of M-Flint colleagues, including Paula Nas, director of the school’s outreach office, are preparing to open a cyber security range hub at the campus.
“It is going to be an epicenter of attraction for people who want to be trained at facilities” that specialize in cyber security, Merot says.
Nas says the effort is eagerly anticipated at U of M-Flint’s campus, which includes computer science faculty.
“So they’re very interested in this initiative and exposing more of our students to it,” she says.
Organizations and partnerships in Huron, Sanilac, Tuscola, Shiawassee, St. Clair, and Huron Counties are included as part of the region six collaboration. Ten areas of the state will participate in the overall initiative.
The summit’s theme, “Taking the Lead: Collaborating to Solve National Cyber Security Problems,” reflects a goal put Michigan on the map as a technological training ground. Internationally known speakers and experts in the field will discuss how cyber safety impacts areas ranging from military defense to the financial industry and even private households.
The Summit also showcases youth who are talented in computer science through the 3rd Annual Governor’s High School Cyber Challenge finals, which will end with an awards presentation.
supporting or helping
University of Michigan-Flint will solicit support from local foundations and philanthropic programs in recruiting grade-school youth for cyber security training, says Merot.
“For us, what is very important is to look at trends that are happening in Michigan, nationally and internationally, and bring them to Flint, because what is happening is that these trends are supporting or helping social mobility by giving people from any age group the possibility and the access of those new trends like cyber/cyber security,” he adds.
“People think, ‘My bank is going to take care of it’ or ‘Facebook is going to take care of it,’ but you need to be able to understand cyber security concerns.”
Various levels of certification and training will be available through the Flint cyber security range hub, including university courses that potentially benefit not just computer science majors, but business majors and other students, depending on their competency.
Though some younger students don’t even know what cyber security means, Merot says introducing them could be beneficial to their future and to the future of Flint: “If it exists in the world, why not give them the tools and find the right process?”
In some cases, the difference in levels of industry certification can mean the difference between a $45,000 and $80,000 career, says Merot.
“It’s a big deal,” he adds. “It’s a very big deal.”
Gov. Rick Snyder announced a statewide initiative to put Michigan on the cyber security training map at the North American International Cyber Summit 2018.