Science & Technology

Florida cybersecurity leaders to converge at UWF on May 12

Cybersecurity educators from across Florida will come together for a meeting of the Florida Center for Cybersecurity’s State University System Advisory Council, hosted at the University of West Florida on Thursday, May 12. More than 40 cybersecurity experts from nine Florida universities are expected to attend.

As the number of costly data breaches grows daily, government and industry are struggling to meet the tremendous workforce demand. This year, according to reports, more than 200,000 cybersecurity jobs in the United States are expected to go unfilled.

The statewide meeting comes at a time when UWF is emerging as a regional leader for cybersecurity education, research and outreach. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security recently designated UWF as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education through the academic year 2021-22. UWF’s bachelor‘s degree in computing and information sciences – cybersecurity specialization was mapped to the NSA-DHS curricular requirements.

Starting this fall, UWF will launch a fully online Master of Science in Information Technology in Cybersecurity and an MBA emphasis in information security management. This adds to the University’s growing list of academic programs, which includes undergraduate and graduate certificates in cybersecurity, intelligence analysis, information security management and geospatial cybersecurity.

The bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity has 75 students and is expected to continue to grow with the new NSA-DHS CAE designation, according to Dr. Eman El-Sheikh, director of the UWF Center for Cybersecurity.

The center is expanding its research efforts through fellowship opportunities for faculty and additional research positions, including a joint cybersecurity research scientist position with the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition and two postdoctoral cybersecurity research associate positions. The center is also expanding its outreach activities, including participation in regional events such as CyberThon, and cybersecurity awareness and training initiatives.

“We’ve made tremendous progress at UWF in the past few years, enhancing our programs and research, helping to position UWF as a regional leader in cybersecurity,” El-Sheikh says. “We truly value the statewide collaborations that the Florida Center for Cybersecurity makes possible. It allows us to work together to enhance cybersecurity across the State of Florida in addition to our own community.”

This summer, UWF will partner with the Florida Center for Cybersecurity on a one-week summer program for high school students. Students will be selected for the free program through a partnership with Escambia County Public Schools. Teachers also will participate in a one-day workshop followed by additional online training. The Florida Center for Cybersecurity facilitated the collaboration between UWF and the University of South Florida in Tampa to enhance cybersecurity interest and education across the state.  Through their partnership with FC², USF and UWF aim to expand the program in future years to other SUS institutions and school districts with the goal of positioning Florida as a national leader in cybersecurity education.

The council meeting’s agenda includes updates on statewide cybersecurity curriculum and statewide research. It will conclude with a tour of the UWF Battle Lab, which is used for cybersecurity education, training and research.

To learn more about UWF’s cybersecurity programs, research and activities, visit