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DSU moves forward with cyber research initiative

March 24, 2022

All funding approved at city, state, levels

Work on the next “big thing” in South Dakota is ready to begin.

Governor Kristi Noem signed SB 54 and SB 130 into law on March 24 at a bill signing ceremony in Sioux Falls. This paves the way for a transformative cyber-research initiative in the state through program expansion at DSU (SB 54), and the building of an applied research lab in Sioux Falls (SB130), which is an expansion of such a facility in Madison.

“Now we have the opportunity to do something quite extraordinary,” said President José-Marie Griffiths, “something that will establish the cyber-research industry in South Dakota.”

In addition to the details authorized in the two legislative bills, the Sioux Falls City Council passed an ordinance on March 15, providing $10 million in support for the applied research lab in Sioux Falls; Forward Sioux Falls group has also committed $250,000.

These entities represent a unique blend of public-private partners who are investing in and committed to this vision, Griffiths said, which gives this project great strength to accomplish great things.

One of the benefits from this new industry will include addressing issues with the state’s “brain drain,” a definite trend seen with Dakota State’s cyber graduates. Around 200 students graduate from Dakota State’s Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences each year, with degrees in Computer Science, Cyber Operations, and Network and Security Administration. About 30% of students, particularly those with Cyber Operations degrees, must go to the east or west coasts to find work in their highly specialized, technical fields.  By expanding the cyber research workforce opportunities, more graduates could stay in the state.

This cyber-research hub will also create long-term economic development benefits for the Midwest, because the unique expertise located here will attract other businesses or entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas in cyber security, cyber health, cyber ag, or cyber manufacturing.

“It has been relatively easy to dream and come up with this plan, but now the real work begins,” Griffiths said, including hiring additional faculty and staff for the program expansion in Madison, and planning and design work for the Sioux Falls ARL, which could open as soon as Fall 2024.

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