University to host cybersecurity conference

Image courtesy of NICE

By: Yeskanisayka Urbina/Staff Writer


The University is hosting an annual conference for cybersecurity education and training to encourage cybersecurity in the workplace.

The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) 2018 conference will be held at the Hyatt Regency Miami on Tuesday, Nov. 6 and Wednesday, Nov. 7.

The conference is an exhibition created by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to fill employment gaps in the cybersecurity market.

The University’s Jack D. Gordon Institute of Policy and Division of Information Technology, in partnership with New America, was awarded a grant in January 2018 to host the conference for the next five years.

The conference introduces students, developers, employers, hiring managers and policymakers to new approaches in the cybersecurity industry.

“This isn’t a traditional conference where you attend and there’s just panel after panel all day long and you’re just sitting in one room the whole day,” said Randy Pestana, the senior policy analyst for the University Institute for Public Policy. “It’s extremely interactive. We have a big ballroom with 500 to 600 people and a couple of presentations.”

The event’s registration price dropped from $400 to $250 to make participation more accessible for those interested in cybersecurity careers.

The University broke a record for the number of proposals and participants this year, making it a sold out event in its first year of hosting, according to Pestana.

The conference will present on how to grow the cybersecurity workforce, diversity, and interdisciplinary approaches to bring together those who have an interest in a career in cybersecurity, despite their primary career or college major.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet 30 exhibitors that will promote their materials and inform on different available certifications.

Feature speakers, including Trend Micro, New America, Microsoft, McAfee, Cyxtera Technologies, and the Northop Gruman Foundation, will discuss and mentor attendees in nine panel presentations.

University President Mark B. Rosenberg is also attending to speak on the future of cybersecurity education.

“He’ll be talking a little bit about core competencies and how that fits into the future of education,” said Pestana. “We look forward to having him, especially since this is the first year the University is hosting it.”

Discussions by the speakers will also include innovation hour and presentations from public and private sector organizations to speak on what they are doing to help bridge the gap between the industry, government, and academia.

The cybersecurity field has experienced a rise in employment in the last six months, but the number of unfilled positions increased from 250,000 to 300,000 as new positions were created, according to Pestana.

“The problem is that we don’t graduate enough pure technical people per year around the country to fit that gap,” said Pestana. “To put that in context, you graduate maybe 50,000 computer science majors, which is the traditional mindset. That is what cybersecurity is: computer science. But not all those graduates join cybersecurity education type firms.”

The conference welcomes students from any major to encourage those who do not study IT or STEM subjects to learn more about cybersecurity, as well as to meet those in the industry to further a career in cybersecurity.  

“We’ve got to do a good job of preparing our students to go to the conference but I encourage students to go to be part of the conversation,” said Pestana. “Also, use that opportunity to make some contacts that could potentially be your future boss.”

For more information about NICE, visit

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