AFCEA’s role as a bridge between government, industry and academia took a spotlight in April at the Cyber Security Summit Caucus, organized by the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. The event, now in its fifth year, brings together a number of elected officials, military leaders, C-level industry executives and educators who are working collectively to build San Antonio’s reputation as “Cyber City USA.” A roster of speakers presented, including Maj. Gen. Suzanne Vautrinot, 24th Air Force commander; Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX); and Gary McAlum, senior vice president and chief security officer for USAA. They gave their views on evolving cyber threats, defenses, and the importance of collaboration in building new cybersecurity models for the private and public sectors. The chapter was first in line to present checks for various information assurance and cyber scholarships. The chapter, in conjunction with the Cyber Innovation and Research Consortium, awarded $10,000 for the University of Texas-San Antonio’s (UTSA’s) five-day annual Network and Bootcamp for Cyber Patriot competitors, and $7,500 a piece to Our Lady of the Lake University and Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
The chapter’s scholarship program has grown significantly over the past year, Bill Morrow, chapter president, said, noting that only one university received AFCEA funding at last year’s summit. The chapter now contributes more than $70,000 yearly to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Booz Allen Hamilton and ManTech also presented scholarship checks, and the Hallmark College School of Business announced three new cyber-related scholarship programs, including one for women in information technology and another for teen students, who can attend a summer intensive program and earn CompTIA certifications before they graduate from high school.
Several speakers emphasized the importance of cultivating young talent and creating a pipeline of jobs for local workers, both to answer a burgeoning need in industry and to build strong, dynamic cyber defense models for industry and government. The cyber sector has an economic impact of about $12 billion annually in San Antonio, according to Greater Chamber of Commerce estimates. The Cyber Security Summit, which was held at the St. Anthony Hotel, is scheduled each year in conjunction with the National Collegiate Cyber Defense Challenge (NCCDC), hosted by UTSA’s Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security. Just steps away from the summit, college teams from around the country were holed up in hotel rooms, each trying to defend their networks and defeat a red team of hackers and infiltrators in the competition finals. The April events, which capped a week of technology-related trade shows and conferences in San Antonio, wrapped up in the evening with a cyber recruiting fair, followed by an awards luncheon for the NCCDC finalists.