Augusta University, Augusta Technical College and even the private sector will all soon work inside the new Georgia Cyber Center.  They will wear two caps.  First learning what the bad guys do in the digital world and then fixing that issue. 

“The level of sophistication of the hackers will actually be met with a level of sophistication by those who are ethical hackers,” said Terry Elam, Augusta Techical College President.

Two new, cutting-edge cyber buildings downtown off Reynolds Street will soon open to students enrolled at Augusta Technical College and Augusta University.  But it won’t be for an ordinary course.  It’s Cybersecurity.  A growing industry due to digital theft.  

Elam added, “Hacking is a pretty bad word, but the other side of it is someone has to be able to address that warfare just like you do in any other kind of warfare, whether it’s government or private industry.  We all have to address the cyber attacks that are everyday, 24 hours a day.”

Jim Poarch works as Augusta Technical College’s IT Chair and will also work at the new cyber center.

“There are several jobs they can get all the way from entry level technician up to, I’ve had students that made over $100,000 a year with a two-year degree.”

NewsChannel 6 cameras went inside the Hull McKnight Building where Augusta Tech students will fill eight rooms across three floors inside Cisco Learning Labs.  

Elam told us the students will monitor and test software to protect cyber activity.  He also said the new addition means jobs. 

“There’s going to be a large number of highly qualified people who will be able to leverage to be able to bring jobs into our community.”

The Georgia Cyber Center is bigger than Augusta though.  A move Michael Shaffer said is truly a state asset.

“Cybersecurity is part of life anymore.  Whether you’re driving a car that has computers in it, whether it’s your FitBit, whether it’s at home with your Cable Vision.  Everything you do when you use your phone, whether you turn on a computer,” said Michael Shaffer, AU Executive VP for Strategic Partnerships & Economic Development.

Along with college students learning about networks, routers, switches and firewalls, younger kids, researchers, private sector employees and even people form Fort Gordon will take part in a cyber-related virtual world, with a competitive edge.

Sarah Rees will work as the Cyber Workforce Academy Director.  She said getting adults excited about cyber will help by doing competitions.

“We can do training, we can do competitions, we can do testing, we can do demonstrations, we can take whatever it is that you’re working on and see can these people break it, can we learn from it?  How does this really work?”

The building will open July 10 in just a few weeks.  

Shaffer added that credits should be able to transfer between AU and Augusta Tech. 

The City of Augusta is conducting a Public Information Meeting to present proposed roadway changes in the area of the new Cyber Center near Reynolds Street on June 27, 2018 from 6-8 p.m. in the Beasley Room located on the first floor of the Municipal Building, 535 Telfair Street, Augusta,GA .  The public is encouraged to attend and provide input about the upcoming roadway project.  For additional information, please call Augusta Traffic Engineering office at 706-821-1850.

Photojournalist: Troy Robinson