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LAKELAND, Fla. – The new cybersecurity engineering program at Florida Polytechnic University has received a $25,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation to fund a portion of a new cyber-physical systems lab.

“This will be seed money to help us set up a laboratory to prepare students with hands-on experience in protecting the smart grid and power infrastructure,” said Dr. Muhammad Rashid, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Our students will be working in the lab with faculty and with industry, and this will help them have the background they need to succeed in the workforce after graduation.”

Florida Poly’s bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity engineering is the first of its kind in the state and was established in the spring of 2021. Rashid said the program is a fusion of the hardware aspects of electrical engineering and computer engineering and the software aspects of computer science.

The $25,000 grant to the program is part of Duke Energy’s commitment to improving workforce development in Florida.

“Supporting educational and workforce development initiatives like this one at Florida Poly is an integral mission of the Duke Energy Foundation,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president. “Our Foundation’s workforce grants support vital programs and help develop diverse workforce pipelines needed to strengthen our communities and economies today and in the future.”

As threats to the nation’s infrastructure persist, utility providers like Duke Energy say they are increasingly invested in improving the protection of both their software and hardware systems.

“We are incredibly grateful for Duke Energy’s continual support of Florida Poly,” said Lidia Vigil, director of corporate and foundation relations at the University. “We are proud to have a partnership with such a strong organization that will continue to grow with us as we grow our cybersecurity engineering program.”

Job outlook for graduates with cybersecurity degrees is strong. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of information security analysts is expected to grow by 31% from 2019-2029, a rate much faster than average. Median pay in this area is $103,590 per year.

Duke Energy’s contribution to Florida Poly also means it is now part of Florida Poly’s Corporate Roundtable, alongside companies like MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, Saddle Creek Logistics Services, and Accusoft. Corporate Roundtable partners establish a pipeline to the University that allows them to easily recruit STEM talent, sponsor student capstone design projects, provide scholarships, and more.

For the most recent University news, visit Florida Poly News.

About Florida Polytechnic University: Florida Polytechnic University is a nationally ranked Top 100 engineering college, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and a member of the State University System of Florida. It is the only state university dedicated exclusively to STEM and offers ABET-accredited degrees. Florida Poly is a powerful economic engine within the state of Florida, blending applied research with industry partnerships to give students an academically rigorous education with real-world relevance. Florida Poly’s iconic Innovation, Science, and Technology Building, designed by world-renowned architect Dr. Santiago Calatrava, has won more than 20 global awards and was named one of the 16 most breathtaking buildings in the world. Connect with Florida Poly.

About Duke Energy Foundation: The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy customers live and work. The foundation contributes more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars. More information about the foundation program can be found at duke-energy.com/foundation.

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