$2 million for cybersecurity project could go to Lamar University


“This is a $2 million grant that helps Lamar University in many ways to grow these programs that provide cybersecurity.”

BEAUMONT, Texas — Just over a year ago, the Colonial Pipeline cyber breach put fuel security on the line. It exposed the danger of cyber threats in the oil industry.

Southeast Texas is an energy and petrochemical powerhouse. Most people don’t know that petroleum is linked to everything from toothpaste to lipstick.

$2 million could be on the table for Lamar University to cover the cost of a cybersecurity new energy project, and executives say a lot is at stake.

The proposal was presented to a congressional subcommittee by House District 14 Rep. Randy Weber, and it still has some way to go. But if passed, it will ensure further job growth and security in the industry.

“As we see cyber threats becoming more sophisticated, we need more people to respond to them who have the necessary qualifications,” said Sade Chick, general affairs manager at the Port of Beaumont.

That’s what Lamar University’s new energy cybersecurity program hopes to do.

“We think we can make a very positive contribution, both on the educational and research side of the project,” said Dr. Jerry Lin, vice provost for research at Lamar University.

Lin is spearheading this project at Lamar. He wrote Congressman Randy Weber, R-Texas, a letter asking for his support.

“This is a $2 million grant that helps Lamar University in many ways to grow these programs that provide cybersecurity,” Weber said.

It’s not done yet. The proposal was approved by a Congressional subcommittee in late June and is expected to be submitted to Congress for approval in the fall. But, Weber is optimistic.

“I expect it to pass. Cross your fingers,” Weber said.

And once that’s done, Lamar will be ready.

“Once we get the funding resources, most likely in the spring of 2023 or summer of 2023, we can jump right into the work and have an impact,” Lin said.

Lin said the initiative can be divided into three parts:

  • Train new workers
  • Research advanced data and analytics technologies
  • Raising awareness with the community and local industry such as the Port of Beaumont

“Lamar University’s proposed center will not only fill a workforce gap, but also provide the resources we need to protect key systems that support critical infrastructure,” Chick said.

“That means jobs, jobs, jobs. People have to have energy,” Weber said.

Weber said that once this proposal is presented to the Senate, he is confident that he will have the support of the two Texas senators to pass it, hopefully without changing much or any of the conditions already present.

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