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UAPB launching new program to improve cyber workforce in Arkansas

UAPB is partnering with UA Little Rock, Forge Institute and Acxiom to create the Consortium for Cyber Innovation.

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — For students like Huddoy Walters, graduating from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) marks the beginning of his career in computer science.

"I think it's the utmost interest to really focus on cyber and computer science as a whole," Walters said.

Walters is wasting no time jumping into the cyber workforce, as he plans to work for a data company here in Arkansas.

He's also looking at starting a mentorship so that young Arkansans can get a head start on learning the craft.

"As you can see, our generation is moving full speed towards a technological, innovative society," Walters said.

It's that younger generation and those mentees that Dr. Karl Walker, a Mathematics and Computer Science Professor at UAPB, said he hopes to see in the future.

The college recently joined forces with the UA Little Rock, the Forge Institute, and Acxiom to establish the Consortium for Cyber Innovation, a new program aiming to increase Arkansas' workforce of cyber professionals.

"It's a platform for us to share expertise, and which will position us to be major contributors to training cyber professionals, cybersecurity professionals," Walker said.

The partnership will allow students to work together with other cyber experts both in the state, and throughout the country, to research things such as artificial intelligence.

"We're going to be looking at network analytics and research in those areas. Also threat analysis, different areas of cybersecurity," Walker said.

Diamond Compton is a computer science graduate. Much like Walters, she finds it important to train students at a young age. 

"If somebody taught me computer science in high school, I would have been a beast beforehand. So I want to do the same thing that I didn't get," she said.

Compton is a math teacher at Parkview Magnet High School in Little Rock. Once she receives her licensure for computer science, she will work to bring the curriculum to her students.

"I'm inspired to do my part in that service, knowing that change is going to be for the better for Arkansas," Compton said.

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