It’s a concept that has many names. Cyber. Cyber warfare. Cyber security. Cyberspace operations. At the end of the day all these terms mean the same thing to the United States military and national defense organizations: a new frontier that the United States must conquer in order to benefit economically and to ensure the safety of all Americans in an increasingly complex digital world. Evidence of the government and military’s emphasis on the cyber domain is easily seen, from the creation of the US Space Force in 2019, to the most recent National Defense Authorization Act which allocated over $44 million to support US Cyber Command and outlined a strategy to merge cyber and electronic warfare across military and intelligence operations. In short, the focus on cyber operation is here and it’s only getting bigger.
As daunting as this new technological realm may seem at first glance, the Beaufort Region is ahead of the pack in planning for the future of cyber, especially in education. This is due, in part, to a variety of local college and high school programs that are expanding opportunities for the next generation of young talent to develop cyber skills. These programs include a cyber concentration within the information science and technology major from University of South Carolina – Beaufort (USCB) which will see its first undergraduates receive their degrees this spring, and a 30-hour cybersecurity certificate offering from the Technical College of the Lowcountry (TCL). In an economy looking for workers with cyber skills, these easily accessible programs will both help residents find worthwhile employment and draw employers—especially defense-related organizations—to the area with the promise of a skilled local workforce. Other efforts include the Intro to Cyber program from the Beaufort Digital Corridor and the second year of Whale Branch Early College High School’s cyber security course.
Even better than the amount of focus on cyber by individual institutions is the fact that the Beaufort Region has a way of organizing and promoting collaboration on cyber topics. The South Coast Cyber Center has been steadily working to promote cyber programs and opportunities in the low country since 2019 with the goal of putting the Beaufort region on the map as a leader in cyber industry and education. Its efforts have already yielded partnerships between USCB, TCL, and Naval Information Warfare Atlantic and, recently, the center established its new headquarters in a 24,000 square foot facility that will act as a cornerstone of cyber education and training in the area.
The goal of all these efforts combined is take advantage of the strong military influence that exist throughout the Beaufort region. Servicemembers at Parris Island and MCAS Beaufort especially, have many of the qualifications and training desired in the civilian cyber community. The installations also provide a significant number of cyber-related jobs, both for civilians and military members. Creating a training pipeline through the collaborative educational efforts of the South Coast Cyber Center and its partners will ensure that the newest generation of cyber workers can be educated, trained, and employed without ever leaving the Lowcountry. As these programs continue to grow, the uncertainty of the cyber world will only continue to be a banquet of opportunities for the Beaufort region.