(Fort Valley, Ga.) – Fort Valley State University has launched a partnership with Robins Air Force Base designed to advance students’ knowledge in computer science and cybersecurity. The partnership makes FVSU the first historically black college and university (HBCU) to join forces with the Houston County, Ga.- based military installation.
RAFB serves as the largest single-site industrial complex in Georgia. Spanning more than 6,934 acres, the airfield base hires more than nearly 24,000 workers — active duty, reserve military, civilians and contractors. The base has an economic impact on Georgia of $3.38 billion.
“This relationship is a tremendous opportunity for our students to gain real-world knowledge from professionals who work in the very fields they want to pursue,” said LuWanna Williams, FVSU director of the Center for Student Engagement. “Students will help in research and development of technology that advances their knowledge, specifically in computer science and cybersecurity.”
Under the collaboration, FVSU students will be introduced to more practical experiences in the high-demand fields of computer science and cybersecurity before graduating. In addition to instant access to industry experts, FVSU students will also have the chance to explore other RAFB career paths within STEM fields to support their growth as 21st Century learners. Coursework may also eventually include electronics, avionics and aging aircraft issues as well as manufacturing, electronic combat and environmental issues.
“Robins Air Force Base is one of the largest employers in the region,” said Dr. Greg Ford, FVSU’s dean of Arts and Science. “This agreement is not just about workforce development but diversity, which is important as we plan to help move our military forward. It’s also producing Wildcats who will become more than ready for the job market.”
The partnership will include guest lectures and demonstrations, professional development workshops, and modern technology and equipment from RAFB on loan and for transfer.
FVSU is developing a joint lab for RAFB personnel and students in the Blanchet Computer Technology and Mathematics Building on the main campus, Williams said. A campus ribbon-cutting ceremony is tentatively scheduled for November.
“Students will be able to work with contractors on unclassified projects there, too,” she said.
Computer information and cybersecurity careers are on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, information security analyst-related jobs are projected to increase 31 percent from 2019 to 2029. With a bachelor’s degree, this position’s median annual wage is $99,730.
RAFB employs over 1,600 scientists and engineers and numerous Information Technology (IT) professionals to support various missions.
“So many new doors can open because of this partnership,” Williams said, adding FVSU students will also have access to internships and future job opportunities.