Gloucestershire College unveils new multi-million cyber and engineering facilities
By Sarah Wood
Gloucestershire College has revealed the brand new cyber and engineering facilities at its Cheltenham campus, part of the West of England Institute of Technology (WEIoT).
The WEIoT is one of only 12 national Institutes of Technology licensed by the Department for Education to support local employers to develop higher level skills and train employees for the jobs of tomorrow.
The ethos of the WEIoT is to open up university level education to all sectors of the community and support GFirst LEP's local industrial strategy.
As part of the WEIoT, Gloucestershire College secured £3 million to invest in engineering lab equipment and a state-of-the-art cyber training centre known as ADA: The Advanced Digital Academy, named after Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.
Sarah Townsend, marketing director of Gloucestershire College said: "The idea is that we get as many students as we can involved in computing, cyber and engineering at higher education level. We're particularly targeting women and those from poorer socio-economic postcodes. It's all about educating the local population and getting them to stay in Gloucestershire.
"The idea is that we'll have lots of students here that can then be a talent pool to feed into the Cyber Park when it's up and running."
The college's brand new WEIoT facilities are equipped with the latest hardware and software, providing students and apprentices with the optimal environment to learn and put cutting-edge theory into practise.
Andy Bates, chief financial officer of Gloucestershire College said: "When I first came to the college, the computer rooms looked like any other computer room you might have seen at school. We needed to bring them to life, to add some theatre, to make people excited about entering the cyber industry. It's not just about working on computers. We need to inspire and bring people in.
"This is about creating the wow factor and saying 'this is different to school, this is cutting edge, top of the range' and to try and excite them about what they can learn here."
The WEIoT computing and cyber facilities are made up of eight computer labs, cyber-forensics tool kits, collaborative working areas and study pods. The jewel the crown is the cutting-edge attack and defence room. Powered by Intel Core i7- 9800X processors, GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB Graphics Cards and a massive 32 GB of RAM complete with 4K Ultra HD curved monitors, students and apprentices will be able to use the latest kit in the secure, off-network attack and defence room to test their skills against sophisticated simulated cyber-attacks.
The space will also be available for local businesses to use.
Andy Bates continued: "We exist for the local community and local business community to provide them with the skills. What we can do now is we can also provide them with some great space to use.
"The attack and defence room will be available to businesses so college staff can simulate an attack on your company. Businesses can also use this facility to work through disaster recovery following a cyber-attack.
"There's not so many of these rooms in the country. For the SME's of Gloucestershire, this is a resource for them and I want them to be able to use it as much as possible."
Thanks to new WEIoT facilities, the college's Cheltenham campus offers engineering, computing and cyber university level courses and degrees delivered in partnership by the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol).
Gloucestershire College has also recently become the first college in England to offer a cyber degree apprenticeship certified by the National Cyber Security Centre- a part of GCHQ.
Matthew Burgess, Gloucestershire College principal and CEO said: "This is a major transformation for our Cheltenham campus. I'm delighted that our students and apprentices will have such an inspiring and motivational place to study, surrounded by the latest, industry standard equipment, matching the workplace.
"This is an exciting time for GC and will develop much needed technical skills and employability potential for our region."
The WEIoT consortium of education providers includes Gloucestershire College, Weston College, UWE Bristol, Bath College and Yeovil College as well as a network of key local employers, as well as a network of key local employers, including GE Aviation, Renishaw and Bamboo Technology. This collaboration of industry, education and research is set to future-proof the region through the development of higher-level technical courses and career opportunities.
Located next door to GCHQ and the Golden Valley Development's new Cyber Park. GC's Cheltenham campus is strategically placed at the heart of Gloucestershire's cyber-tech ecosystem.
To find out more about the WEIoT, please visit: www.gloscol.ac.uk/weiot.
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