Cyber Talk Radio: UTSA's New National Security Collaboration Center

Bret Piatt, CTR Host, and Brig. Gen. (Ret) Guy Walsh, founding executive director of the University of Texas at San Antonio's (UTSA) National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC) - Episode 162 of Cyber Talk Radio

This past Saturday, November 2, episode 162 of Cyber Talk Radio hit the air on 1200 WOAI and iHeartRadio streaming. I was joined by Brig. Gen. (Ret) Guy Walsh, founding executive director of the National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC), to discuss the collaboration between the University of Texas at San Antonio and the public and private sectors to create an innovative hub downtown for cybersecurity research.

I ask Guy to give us a brief introduction to himself and how he found himself in the Alamo City — he’s a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force and had visited San Antonio on temporary duty and he liked it enough to come back after retiring. He came back to head the effort of building the University of Texas at San Antonio's new National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC). The NSCC is an effort led by the university, but in strong collaboration with partners in the military and the private sector (tech community and local startups) to take advantage of the city’s existing cybersecurity ecosystem. The objective with this center is to increase and build on cybersecurity research, education and workforce development in order to meet the industry’s needs. We’ve had plenty of UTSA faculty come on to Cyber Talk Radio to discuss similar projects. What’s really great is that our education system is starting to embrace this industry and its potential. Guy started in more traditional science — engineering — and was first exposed to cybersecurity about 16 years ago. Turns out that engineering and cybersecurity have a lot in common; they both include prioritizing, problem solving and time-bound decisions with complex, incomplete information, all leading to risk management and mitigation. The NSCC will break ground downtown in 2020, and hopefully open in 2022. There is huge support for them as the model for private-public partnerships and collaboration. Guy also tells the thought behind the design of the NSCC building itself — the layout is meant to make it easy for people to understand and access national security. The lower floors are accessible to the public and undergrad students, and the higher the flowers, the higher the security clearance! At the top floors will be the sensitive, compartmented information facility. They are currently working with 22 partners and still are open to new ones! Go to the website for more updates! On November 21 there will be an open forum with the public at downtown campus with people from the state and university there to represent different parts of the project.

After the break, we talk more about Guy’s transition to a post-military career — he didn't retire completely when he left the military because he still wanted to share his skills and knowledge by giving opportunities to others by working at the university level. He’s still using all of his same skills and lessons from the Air Force. UTSA holds all four cyber designations from the National Center of Academic Excellence — which makes this new center a great place to solve challenging national security problems. It’s important to have these specialized research abilities — UTSA builds on this by bringing in subject matter experts from all over the world to teach (they held a year-long search for AI experts). Predictions expect around 10,000 students by the year 2028, which is very important for internal San Antonio workforce development, to create a desirable ecosystem for entrepreneurship and hiring growth. Partners are not only important for research purposes, but also give internship and job opportunities to the students they end up collaborating with.

Before we end the episode, Guy wants to be sure to mention two upcoming UTSA events that anyone interested in tech and cybersecurity should be sure to attend:

Listen to the full episode replay to learn more about the National Security Collaboration Center.

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  • Episode 163, Saturday, November 9: Bret’s Guide to Hacking

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