Dakota State U. to open $50 million cybersecurity applied research lab

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Dakota State University announced a $90 million initiative to bolster South Dakota cybersecurity research this week, including a new applied research lab.

Dakota State already runs a cybersecurity applied research lab in Madison, but plans to open a new $50 million facility in Sioux Falls, in the southeast corner of the state. The new facility, designed to keep more cybersecurity graduates in-state and attract cybersecurity professionals with research jobs, is expected to open in 2025. Creating the lab would also require the city of Sioux Falls to approve $10 million in infrastructure, according to a news release.

The university shaped the initiative around the growing national need for cybersecurity talent, particularly in the federal sector, President Jose-Marie Griffiths said during a Wednesday news conference. Part of the $90 million initiative is recruiting students and staff for Dakota State’s Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences.

“Then we looked at where the jobs were,” Griffiths said. “The vast majority of them were on the East or West coast in state with heavy federal and military presence with specialized facilities. This matched our observation that about 50% of our cyber operations graduates — the most technically specialized degree program — leave South Dakota to perform the types of highly specialized work they’re qualified for.”

Griffiths said the Madison facility serves as a “prototype and proof of concept” for creating these types of jobs, as the lab attracts federal and private vendor cybersecurity work.

The university expects the Sioux Falls facility will hire 400-500 people, and it plans to hire another 125-150 people for its Madison lab. The initiative also relies on $30 million in South Dakota Gov. Kristy Noem’s proposed state budget for a statewide high school dual-credit cybersecurity program and staffing and recruiting efforts for the university’s computer science college.

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