AUGUSTA, GA (WJBF)—NewsChannel 6 has learned more about what is going inside the Cyber Innovation and Training Center in Downtown Augusta. The state-run, Georgia Technology Authority (GTA) is overseeing construction. The Executive Director and Chairman of the Board were in town for a tour on Thursday.
GTA’s Chairman of the Board, Doug Lewis, says he had mixed feelings when the Governor announced they would build such a complicated facility in about a year.
“Excitement or sheer terror, I’m not sure which,” says Lewis with a laugh. In his career, he has not seen something like this completed so fast. Lewis says, the dedication to the construction matches the gravity of the work that will happen inside once the project is finished.
“The students that come out of this curriculum, I’m hoping that they protect the country,” Lewis says.
He applauds the construction crew working long hours to pull this off and describes them as a “winning team.”
GTA’s Executive Director Calvin Rhodes describes the function of each floor of the first building. The first floor will hold the cyber range, which supports the rest of the building and the state.
“If I’m in a technical college in Albany, Georgia, I’m leveraging the tools that are inside this facility,” Rhodes describes. “I do not have to be in Augusta, if I’m in a university that’s focusing on the cyber programs.”
The second floor will be classrooms and collaboration space. The third floor will be stacked with labs for interacting with the technology that students will use in their careers. The fourth floor will be home to the operational side—The Georgia National Guard and the GBI’s Cyber Crimes Unit.
“They’re excited about being in this space because of internships and programs that they’ll have with both Augusta Tech and Augusta University to attract talent into the GBI,” Rhodes points out.
The fifth floor will hose private businesses, whose rent will fund the latest technology. “That gives us a model to allow the state to be very quick and nimble to bring that new technology into this facility,” Rhodes explains.
For efficiency sake, they will duplicate the model of the first building, for the second building. They will modify it slightly to better fit the needs of the private sector companies moving into the space. Rhodes says it was important for both of these buildings to fit in with the neighborhood.
“That was really important for us to make sure that we’re seen as a member of the community,” says Rhodes.
One of the tangible ways the community benefits from this new neighbor—the state is paying to extend the Riverwalk to 13th street. Rhodes says crews should start clearing the way for the Riverwalk addition soon.