Baton Rouge: Governor Bobby Jindal and LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander announced the creation of the LSU Transformational Technology and Cyber Research Center, which will pursue major federal and commercial research projects in applied technology fields. Initially, the TTCRC will be funded in part by the State of Louisiana and LSU in a challenge grant configuration that provides $1 in state funding and $0.50 in LSU funding for each $10 in research funds the center attracts over the next three years.
Ultimately, the TTCRC will target raising $34.5 million over its initial three years, with $30 million coming from external federal and private sources and the remainder coming from the State of Louisiana ($3 million) and LSU ($1.5 million). Creation of the center, which will collaborate with the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute and other LSU research entities, is subject to a vote by the LSU Board of Supervisors.
The research center’s first director, Jeff Moulton, comes to LSU from the Georgia Tech Research Institute, where he served as director of program development for a 1,700-person entity that attracts more than $300 million in annual research and development contracts. Moulton will be charged with attracting major research contracts to LSU by leveraging the university’s unique strengths in such disciplines as supercomputing, cybersecurity and nanotechnology.
Gov. Jindal said, “The Transformational Technology and Cyber Research Center will help LSU attract tens of millions in new research funds while also resulting in new knowledge-based jobs in our state. This represents another great opportunity to utilize higher education partnerships to create more jobs and prepare students for Louisiana’s expanding workforce.”
Goals of the research partnership between the State of Louisiana and LSU are for the center to reach at least $10 million in research contracts by Jan. 1, 2016, and $30 million in research contracts by July 1, 2017.
“Strategic investments in critical research areas like this have a real impact on research productivity, regional economies and national security,” said LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander. “Forming the LSU Transformational Technology and Cyber Research Center and hiring Jeff Moulton to direct it will allow our university to further leverage its expertise into providing real solutions for the problems we face today as well as the challenges tomorrow will bring.”
Subject to LSU Board of Supervisors approval, Moulton will lead the TTCRC as executive director following an extensive career of information management leadership in the public and private sectors. From 1977 to 1999, he served in the U.S. Air Force, where his roles included chief of communications and information management resources for the Air Force Special Operations Command headquarters, located at Hurlburt Field near Fort Walton Beach, Florida. At GTRI the past six years, Moulton managed a global team of more than 950 research professionals and guided the attraction of annual research contracts from $172 million to $307 million. He created GTRI’s highest growth sector by shepherding cyber research activity from 5 percent of GTRI’s annual revenue to 28 percent.
“We live in a world of unprecedented challenges,” Moulton said. “Nascent threats require innovative solutions. The Governor’s Office through LED has done a tremendous job of attracting a world-class research capability in Louisiana. LSU had the vision to commission the TTCRC, and we’ll leverage this capability to bring Louisiana’s intellectual might to the fight. I’m excited to be a part of it.”
The TTCRC represents the latest higher education investment by the State of Louisiana to cultivate an accomplished workforce with in-demand technology skills and a robust private sector with rapid growth in jobs that will engage graduates who possess skills in computer science, software engineering, digital media applications, mathematics and other quantitative-intense fields. Such skills are associated with high-demand STEM jobs, or jobs requiring backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Since 2008, Louisiana has secured economic development projects that are creating thousands of new STEM jobs in the state, such as Bell Helicopter, Benteler, CenturyLink, CGI, CSC, GE Capital, IBM and Sasol. State-funded higher education initiatives linked to economic development projects during that period now top $40 million, and they include commitments to at least triple the annual number of bachelor’s degree graduates in computer science at LSU, Louisiana Tech University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and UNO, in addition to the TTCRC commitment.
In June, Gov. Jindal joined leaders from higher education systems across Louisiana to sign into law the Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, or WISE Fund, which will dedicate $40 million beyond the prior initiatives to better prepare Louisiana students to compete in the global economy. WISE Fund resources will be made available to research institutions that produce nationally recognized commercial research and to state colleges, universities, and community and technical colleges that partner with private industry to produce graduates with high-demand degrees and certificates.
LSU Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Stuart Bell said LSU is committed to academic excellence and to advancing its research portfolio by exploring highly innovative research and development efforts and transferring tangible results to a larger community of consumers.
“LSU will continue to go to great lengths to identify and attract top research talent in its quest to propel LSU into an internationally acclaimed status as a major research university,” Bell said.
Kalliat T. Valsaraj, LSU vice chancellor for research and economic development said, “LSU has been seeking opportunities to diversify and amplify its research and development efforts. We are excited about Mr. Jeffrey Moulton joining our team at the Office of Research and Economic Development and the Stephenson Disaster Management Institute to work with SDMI Executive Director Joseph Booth to bolster our efforts at diversifying and transforming our research efforts into cybersecurity, homeland security, defense and energy related areas.”