Credits: ABC News
After just over a year of construction, representatives of Augusta Technical College and Augusta University are excited to be moving closer to the days when hundreds of students will be able to learn in the new building.
Augusta Tech president Terry Elam said during a tour of the building Thursday that he expects to have 45 different classes taught there, starting in January. He said those classes are going to be full of students in their second year of the school’s cyber program, which Elam is expecting to grow to over 600 students annually from about 425 right now.
“As someone who grew up in this community, this is a dream that a little boy had that the focus would be on us, that we’d have a community that people were trying to get into, not leave,” Elam said of the cyber center. “People will actually know who we are and want to live here because of the quality of life that will come with the activities of cyber.”
Some classes in the Cyber Center will teach students how to thwart cyber security threats, such as hackers.
“The level of sophistication of hackers will have to be met with the level of sophistication of those who are ethical hackers,” Elam said.
Jim Poarch, chair for information technology and director of the cyber center at Augusta Tech, said the classes taught at the Hull McKnight building could propel students into a job at the same location, or in the building next door.
“The main reason that this building is so special is that it’s collaborative,” Poarch said. ”(We’re) working with Augusta Tech, Augusta University, other state agencies and businesses so hopefully a year from now our students can walk out of here, get on an elevator and go to work, or cross over to the other building for a few hours and then come back over and go to class so they can work a couple hours between classes.”
Augusta Tech will have three labs on the second floor and five labs on the third floor, Poarch said. The Cisco Learning Labs will teach students about Cisco security and provide experience troubleshooting equipment.
Space in the building will also be used for training exercises, demonstrations and interactive learning. Sarah Rees, director of the cyber workforce academy for the Georgia Cyber Center, said the training rooms will bring people together to test their skills on a level playing field.
On the first floor, a space called Virtual World will allow people to participate in cyber events like capture the flag events, or CTFs. These competitions will provide an opportunity for people to engage their skills sets and test their cyber defense or cyber attack skills, Rees said.
“I think that something that’s incredibly unique and dynamic about this space is the ability to get private public and academic people working together in that level playing field because I think if we baseline our cyber security skill sets we’re going to be better prepared in a defensive posture,” Rees said.
The grand opening of the Hull McKnight building is July 10. The second building is expected to be completed by Dec. 18.