Regional action cluster aims to make Cincinnati a leader in cyber-technology

CINCINNATI -- A partnership among businesses, educators and agencies is working to turn Cincinnati into the Silicon Valley of the Midwest. Local schools are training the next generation of cyber experts.

“They will take three years of coursework that really orients them towards this industry,” Cincinnati Public Schools blended learning coordinator Erin Heinrich said.

It’s a part of CPS’s new cyber-academy, and it’s one of the components of a regional action cluster on cybersecurity through the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

“I think it’s no secret that there are gaps that need to be filled in Cincinnati, in Southwest Ohio,” Venture Smarter CEO Zach Huhn said.

The cluster sees technology as the fourth industrial revolution.

“What we have done with this working group is to say that Cincinnati wants to be a leader in this space,” Huhn said.

Michael Beck, the chairman of the Cincinnati Education Super Cluster Alliance, said that if there's a local focus on two or three areas like cyber security, Cincinnati "could become the Silicon Valley of the Midwest."

Area colleges saw the demand for graduates with technological skills coming, and the Southwest Ohio Council of Higher Education is working to keep up.

“We need to exponentially increase our pipeline, to make sure we’re serving this region,” Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) president Sean Creighton said.

The University of Cincinnati’s innovation hub plays a key role.

“Even as students, they’re helping to solve IT problems that are relevant to our community,” UC School of Information Technology assistant professor Jess Kropczynski said.

The coalition is planning to take innovation beyond campus and maybe even beyond Cincinnati.

“We may be something very different from Silicon Valley and maybe even better,” Kropczynski said.

Communities from across the world are participating in the National Institute of Standards and Technology Initiative. The local collaboration stretches from Cincinnati to Dayton.

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