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In 2018, industry has two choices when it comes to cyber: dive in headfirst or get dragged in kicking and screaming. Staying out altogether is not an option.
South Dakota was settled by pioneers unafraid to dive into new territory for the sake of progress. Education pioneers at Dakota State University (DSU) decided to take the headfirst route with regard to cyber.
Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota, was founded in 1881 and is a public university in the state university system. In 1984, a remarkably prescient South Dakota state legislature decided that the state needed to dive into the technology revolution, and DSU was the educational institution to lead the way. The university has developed into a powerhouse school of technology-intensive and technology- infused degree programs. DSU’s cybersecurity students have won notable titles against universities ten times their size in national and international cyber competitions. The university continues to graduate an impressive stream of much in demand tech-savvy professionals who have landed jobs in government, education, and business and industry organizations, nationally and internationally. Small in size, DSU has become a big player in cyber workforce development.
When Dr. José-Marie Griffiths arrived at DSU in 2015 as the university’s president, she was especially impressed by two things: 1) the caliber of DSU’s faculty and programs, especially in computer and cyber sciences, and 2) the extent to which South Dakota and the region were losing DSU’s high-powered graduates to jobs outside of the state. These grads had valuable cyber expertise, but South Dakota lagged behind in the number of organizations and jobs that could profit from their skills.
With her past experience creating technology- centric economic development engines, Griffiths saw the potential for something similar at DSU. Her conversations with university and South Dakota leadership confirmed her thinking, and soon gave rise to the creation of the Madison Cyber Labs – the MadLabs. It is a fitting name, matching the efforts of the DSU administrators, faculty, students, and staff who have been bold in their work to develop and deploy cyber “mad skills.” Together they have shaped a 137-year-old university into a high-tech mecca for cyber whiz kids and forward- thinking organizations.
The MadLabs have grown quickly, and now contain nine R&D labs and institutes, each focused on unique cyber issues. They presently include: AdapT Lab – adaptive technology; C-BAR – Center for Business Analytics Research; CAHIT – Center for Advancement of Health Information Technology; the Classics Institute – Collaborations for Liberty And Security Strategies for Integrity in a Cyberenabled Society; the Cyber Education & Professional Development Lab – K-12 IT and cyber education; the CybHER Institute – women in cybersecurity; the DigForce Lab – Digital Forensics for Cyber Enforcement; the FinTech Lab – banking security; PATRIOT Lab – Protection and Threat Research for the Internet of Things.
“Every industry, from manufacturing to healthcare and from banking to security systems, is looking to the power of technology to transform and expand their sector’s impact and success,” said Griffiths. “One of DSU’s missions is to educate a workforce that has the skills to implement that transformative power today and the knowledge to develop new applications for tomorrow. Our MadLabs centers provide DSU students an important intersection between learning and doing, ensuring that they graduate career ready. The MadLabs also help us to pursue another of our missions as a public university, to contribute to economic growth, quality of life, and future success of South Dakota, our region, and our country. That means we must engage with business and industry and government as well as education,” Griffiths stated.
MadLabs is a win-win situation for the university and its partners. DSU has gained corporate collaborators with guidance and funding to ensure that the university’s degree programs, especially its master’s and doctoral programs, stay coherent with industry trajectories. DSU’s students get valuable experience working sideby- side with career professionals on real-world R&D projects. Corporate partners get first access to leading-edge cyber advancements and the workforce professionals they need to execute them. Entrepreneurs have support through their start-up phases, ensuring that technology transfer flourishes.
The MadLabs have already been successful on multiple fronts. For example, the university’s R&D funding has more than doubled in the last few years. In that same time period, DSU has launched various types of partnerships with over 30 government, corporate, and other organizations; new enterprises visit campus monthly, often weekly, to discuss the potential for additional projects. Many of these meetings take place in the Beacom Institute of Technology building, a glass-fronted, futuristic new academic building filled with leading-edge technologies. Construction was partially funded by a gift from Miles Beacom, a DSU alumnus and successful financial entrepreneur, and Denny Sanford, a South Dakota healthcare executive. Reflected in Beacom’s two-story tall windows is the brick tower of East Hall across the street, one of the campus’s earliest buildings, built in 1901. The two buildings speak to DSU’s solid foundation in its past and innovative commitment to the future.
MadLabs’ vision and success continue to garner support. In August of 2017 DSU announced a plan for $60 million of new funding for the MadLabs and related programs, a transformational five-year capital investment initiative called DSU Rising. It includes a $30 million donation from philanthropists Miles and Lisa Beacom and Denny Sanford, along with plans for procuring additional state and federal monies. The philanthropic support is providing for the construction of an $18 million, 40,000-square-foot research and development building for the MadLabs, with a planned opening in summer 2019. The building will contain multiple R&D labs, collaboration centers, and a showcase of MadLabs-generated innovations from the labs/institutes and their partners.
President Griffiths says, “We are looking forward to the MadLabs generating even more partnerships and collaborations, and we are pleased to participate in this important work to empower innovation across the cyber universe.”
For more information about the MadLabs, and especially about partnership and R&D possibilities, please contact DSU Media Relations, Dakota State University, Madison, SD, 605-256-5027 or email@example.com.
Dr. Josh Pauli is vice president for research and economic development at Dakota State University in Madison, S.D. He has been instrumental in the formation of DSU’s nationally-recognized cyber security degree programs, developing curriculum and teaching a wide array of undergraduate and graduate classes. The university has three Center of Academic Excellence designations and is one of eight CAE Regional Resource Centers, as designated by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). As vice president for research and economic development, Pauli is responsible for leading DSU’s R&D strategy and supporting faculty in generating externally-funded research projects. He has secured nearly $15 million in grants and contracts and extensively published and presented nationally on cyber security and the cyber sciences.