Andy McMillan, BACnet International President & Managing Director, took part in an initiative to provide guidance to individuals looking to begin a career in the cyber workforce.
Press Release from Automation Strategy & Performance:
As cyber threats to our country continue to increase, the federal government initiated a significant push to train the national workforce and establish a front line of defense
That push, the 120-Day Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint, ended today with a recognition for the 32 organizations who completed the challenge.
Only one Florida company, Jacksonville-based Automation Strategy & Performance (ASP), was recognized at the event. And while most groups focused on traditional IT cybersecurity defense, ASP was the only company to develop a comprehensive apprenticeship program for the cybersecurity of smart infrastructure.
“Integrated automation workers are in short supply. Looming retirements among the knowledgeable automation workforce is an even greater threat to the Cybersecurity landscape faced by our nation.
“Integrated automation workers are in short supply. Looming retirements among our most knowledgeable OT cybersecurity workforce will add to this problem and create a greater threat to the Cybersecurity landscape faced by our nation” says Melissa Boutwell, CEO, ASP. “Our company exists to solve these specific workforce challenges and scale nationwide, so this was a great undertaking for our company and our partners. We’re proud to be one of the companies recognized today.”
The 120-day Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Sprint was announced in July at the National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit by the Department of Labor and the Department of Commerce.
According to the White House’s release on the summit, “this initiative is aimed at providing individuals with the opportunity to receive the training and mentorship they need to begin a career in the cyber workforce.”
ASP focused on attacks on operational technology which threaten the primary services on which communities depend. Of course, some of the most infamous cyber-attacks started through a vulnerability in a water treatment plant or an HVAC system.
One of the keys of success with apprenticeship programs is combining mentor coaching with on-job-skill application and classroom instruction. The hands-on nature of cybersecurity skills requires an innovative approach to workforce education.
“This is a critical aspect of our national defense as many of these systems need individuals who can find the weaknesses in these facilities and fix them,” Boutwell says. “There is a significant market for this type of employee, both commercial enterprises and governments on all levels are struggling to find them.”
A potential use for this would be in government venues, like the Orange County Convention Center where Boutwell worked before founding ASP. One of her advisors with the company is Kathie Canning Glassman, former director of the center.
“It’s long overdue for venues around the country to ensure they have internal staff to protect facilities, but also for all the visitors coming to these venues daily,” Canning Glassman says. “It is exciting to see the White House recognize ASP’s accomplishment because it will help get the word out that a workforce initiative like this is available to venues around our country.”
ASP assembled a working group of experts who provide collaborative support to ensure that the training content is aligned to emerging engineering and technology standards. These organizations are involved to support the deployment beyond the initial 120-day Sprint and include:
- Andy McMillan, BACnet International
- Jim Lee, Cimetrics, Inc.
- Fred Gordy, Michael Baker International
- Steve Fey, Concentric IoT
- Anto Budiardjo, Padi, Inc.
- Andre Ristaino, ISA Global Cybersecurity Alliance
- Lucian Niemeyer, BuildingCybersecurity.org
According to the partners:
- From McMillan: “Working to achieve the 120-Day Cybersecurity Sprint targets was a rewarding experience. BACnet International is proud to have helped bring this about so that a quality program can be provided to our industry.”
- From Lee: “Working on this was a tremendous experience because of what Melissa and her team have developed. What they have accomplished is impressive and it has proven to work.”
- From Gordy: “We’re truly looking forward to continuing our involvement in this effort by supporting the program with Faculty to help teach and support high-quality content within this program. Partnering with ASP is an important step for our company’s ability to support our clients worldwide,’
- From Fey: “Our clients will greatly benefit from this training and we are working on the next step to get it deployed nationwide. As we upskill our existing workforce, this program provides an attractive opportunity to help backfill vacancies created by the new Cybersecurity work required. ASP’s network of workforce partners can help organizations fill these vacancies.”
ASP was founded by Boutwell in 2018 after a 30-year career cultivating an extensive problem-solving tool chest in the automation industry as an operational leader, systems integrator, owners’ representative and college professor. Her last position before founding ASP as the Director of Utilities & Optimization Strategy at the Orange County Convention Center.