Baylor University and McLennan Community College (MCC) have launched the Central Texas Cyber Range (CTCR), which aims to provide comprehensive research in cybersecurity and cyber resilience and training for the cybersecurity workforce to address critical needs at the local, national, and international levels.
“We believe that Central Texas can be a leader in developing a qualified workforce to address this pressing need for cybersecurity research and training in our state and in our nation, and the Central Texas Cyber Range is an important step forward in this pursuit,” Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., said.
To fund the cyber range, the schools secured $2.5 million in funding from Department of Education grant awards. More than $1 million in additional funding came from Baylor University’s Office of the Vice Provost for Research, as well as some funding from private donors. The schools said the CTCR will specialize in applied research and education.
“The opening of the Central Texas Cyber Range marks a significant milestone for the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative and the broader Waco community. This state-of-the-art facility is the product of a coordinated vision that I am excited to support in Congress,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas.
“As America becomes increasingly reliant on digital infrastructure, developing our cybersecurity workforce is no longer optional but essential,” he said. “This Cyber Range will train students with leading-edge skills to counter cybersecurity threats and graduate professionals in this critical field.”
Baylor University said it began programming and outreach to local schools this summer. As part of its first round of programming, the CTCR held its first high school summer camp in July, with nearly 70 percent of participants coming from underrepresented population groups.
The CTCR also has further initiatives in development, including certification programs and a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity with a pathway from MCC to Baylor. The proposed joint degree program between Baylor and MCC would provide students with the option to begin their education at MCC and complete it at Baylor, or spend the entirety of their collegiate education at Baylor, depending on their individual needs. Additional future projects include industry and government training and community-focused seminars to bridge the gap between workforce needs and individual and community training.
“Industry and government need cybersecurity expertise; unfortunately, there is a significant gap between that need and available talent,” said Jeff Donahoo, Ph.D., professor of computer science in Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science and CTCR director of research and development. “The CTCR is a platform to build economic opportunity. High school graduates can receive a certification that can lead to a job, or individuals can extend their skillset to earn a higher-paying job. A significant part of that arc is the joint degree from MCC and Baylor in cybersecurity, which we are developing as a pathway to provide multiple avenues toward a cybersecurity degree.”
In terms of additional areas of research interest, the CTCR will specialize in cyber resilience and security innovation, with a focus on transformational applied research that grows to address real problems faced by industry and government.
“Cybersecurity is a matter of high priority for our citizens, our industries and the state. The preparation of cybersecurity professionals to protect our systems and data will take place at our range, serving the entire Central Texas region,” said Baylor Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D.