RIC cybersecurity and tech institute launches

STATE OFFICIALS convened Monday in Rhode Island College's Sapinsley Hall to launch the new Institute for Cybersecurity & Emerging Technologies, a new professional development and educational hub housed within the college’s school of business. / COURTESY RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island College’s Institute for Cybersecurity & Emerging Technologies officially launched on Monday with goals of boosting education, building a workforce pipeline and supporting small businesses.

The center will be headed by former U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin, who said the institute “will help close the gap between unfilled cybersecurity jobs and the number of trained professionals needed to fill them.”

“Every 11 seconds, a bad actor launches a ransomware attack against critical infrastructure, hospitals, municipalities and businesses.” Langevin said. “Our leading researchers and professionals will also develop practical and policy approaches to the cybersecurity challenges facing businesses, non-profits and government.”

Langevin, who prioritized the cybersecurity industry while in Congress, previously told PBN he’ll seek accreditation from the National Security Agency’s National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity program. That would allow the center to tap the federal CyberCorps scholarship program for cybersecurity studies. 

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State legislators approved Gov. Daniel J. McKee’s $4 million request in the state’s fiscal 2024 budget over three years to fund the institute, with half coming from state fiscal recovery funds and the remainder funded by RIC.

“The Institute for Cybersecurity & Emerging Technologies is a win for students, our economy and all of Rhode Island,” McKee said. “We know that students who graduate from this institute will have higher earning potential and will be well-positioned to go into this competitive field to fill jobs right here in our state.”

The institute will offer the state’s first business-oriented undergraduate cybersecurity degree. RIC students will have the opportunity to gain real-world knowledge and experience by interning with leading companies across the state and government agencies. The degree provides hands-on experience that will uniquely prepare graduates to be ready for their first day on the job.

The institute’s upcoming master’s degree, certificate programs and community outreach will ensure that cybersecurity training is available and accessible to both students and professionals across all industries.

“The Cybersecurity Institute at Rhode Island College is an important addition to in-state, demand-driven industry training and education and can be a destination degree for students across the country who want a postsecondary credential with unlimited career opportunities in the tech industry,” said Shannon Gilkey, R.I. Commissioner of Postsecondary Education.

Beginning in fall 2024, the institute will also offer a degree in artificial intelligence that addresses “the integration of AI into business processes to increase productivity and insight while also addressing the related cybersecurity, privacy, and ethical issues. The degree will incorporate generative AI, large language models, such as ChatGPT, and the reinforcement learning used in autonomous vehicles, according to the release. Additionally, the degree equips students to address bias in machine-learning models to ensure businesses are fair when acting on output from these models.

“The leadership, vision and expertise that [former] congressman Langevin brings to the new Institute for Cybersecurity and Emerging Technologies – along with the resources invested by Gov. McKee and our legislative leaders – will make this a transformative endeavor for the college and our state,” said Jack R. Warner, president of Rhode Island College.

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