AIKEN, S.C. (WFXG) - USC Aiken has some big plans for cyber security education. The school now partners with SANS for expanded learning opportunities. Plus, there’s going to be new spaces for students to collaborate with industry and government experts.

“We’ve probably seen a 50 percent increase in cyber just in the last year." said Chad Leverette, Sciences and Engineering Dean.

An increasing demand for cyber security education now met with a partnership to help make it happen. 

“It’s a novel way of thinking of partnering with an entity like SANS. We’ve been saying if you know cyber, you know SANS.” said Leverette.

USCA students can now get a bachelor's degree that includes courses and certifications through SANS. 

“Things like penetration testing, cloud computing, you know people hear about the cloud, common services like Amazon and Google, how do you protect cyber threats to those clouds, how do you do things like ethical hacking.” 

Those are skills not only important to the state, but also our region. 

“South Carolina has a need for cyber professionals. So, this area has quickly become a cyber capital. It also connects us with Fort Gordon. Soldiers right now already do often do certifications with SANS, but they want to go on and finish their degree. So, it allows us to take those certifications, give them credit towards their four-year degree in cyber.” 

A big part of these next steps for the school's cyber program is a piece of land front and center of the USC Aiken campus. Thanks to a partnership with Department of Energy, students will soon be able learn about cyber and engineering in a $50M dollar building called the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, or the AMC.

“It’s going to have cutting edge technologies in biomanufacturing, in cyber, in high performance computing, chemistry, material science." said Leverette.

Plus, the South Carolina National Guard plans to house the cyber battalion in a $30M dollar building directly behind the AMC. Leverette says all of the investment is about building up students’ futures.

“We want to help them find what they want to be.” 

Construction is expected to begin in January for both buildings. Leverette expects the builds to take about two years to finish. 

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