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White House highlights FIU cybersecurity workforce training program for veterans, first responders

White House highlights FIU cybersecurity workforce training program for veterans, first responders

July 31, 2023 at 11:04am

Today the White House highlighted Florida International University’s cybersecurity workforce training program for veterans and first responders under its National Cyber Workforce and Education Strategy. FIU is one of the 11 institutions in the CyberSkills2Work coalition, an initiative funded by the National Security Agency (NSA) and mentioned in the new strategy.
FIU’s program, led by the Jack D. Gordon Institute (JGI) in partnership with the Global Forensic and Justice Center (GFJC), collaborates on providing free training to build a scalable and sustainable cybersecurity workforce.
“These men and women have served our country while they wear the uniform. Our cybersecurity courses are a way for them to transfer those deployable skills to the civilian world,” said Randy Pestana, associate director of the Cyber Policy Program at JGI. Pestana, a former Marine, oversees FIU’s Veterans and First Responders Training Initiative.
FIU’s efforts were highlighted because of the high number of veterans and transitioning military personnel reached and trained through the program. Launched in 2021 at FIU, more than 350 veterans, transitioning military personnel, and first responders have completed the CyberSkills2Work program. Other FIU training programs, like Warrior Care apprenticeship and internships, also are aimed at expanding the cybersecurity workforce. 
Monday’s strategy announcement from the White House is a response to its five-pillared National Cybersecurity Strategy released in March. FIU’s training aligns with the plan to “Expand and Enhance America’s Cyber Workforce” by supporting veterans reskilling towards cybersecurity work roles. As one of the largest Hispanic-serving institutions in the country, FIU is also poised to help bring more diversity to the growing demand for talent.
“We’re honored to be trusted with not only providing professional development for our veterans and first responders, but to help be a part of building a stronger cybersecurity workforce for our nation,” Pestana said.
FIU’s training covers digital forensics, an emerging need in the nation’s crime laboratories.
“Digital forensics turns all those zeros and ones into valuable pieces of evidence,” said Matt Ruddell, digital forensics trainer and former Florida Department of Law Enforcement digital analyst. “We’ve had students take this training back to their agencies – sometimes before they are even done with the course – and apply the practical applications to casework. That’s the impact these courses have.”