DARTMOUTH - The U.S. Air National Guard and UMass Dartmouth are combining forces.

The 102nd Intelligence Wing at Joint Base Cape Cod and the University held a signing ceremony on Monday to sign a Memorandum of Understanding related to education and workforce development.

The partnership will primarily focus on career development of undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity programs, certificates and concentrations. In addition, base staff engaged in cybersecurity efforts will serve as mentors for willing UMass students.

In turn, UMass Dartmouth will also provide educational programs for the 102nd Wing’s cybersecurity professionals, including a mobile training team that will deliver one-week courses at the base.

“Here at UMass Dartmouth we’re educating a generation of young people who will need to have the skillset and mindset to operate and function in a rapidly changing world. Graduates today will have upwards of 15 jobs over the course of their lives in five different industries, and three of those industries do not exist,” said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert Johnson.

“The partnership we’re announcing today connects our students and faculty to a highly skilled and dedicated team, the 102nd, that recognizes the critical importance of being future-ready.”

The agreement was signed by Johnson and Commander of the 102nd Intelligence Wing, Colonel Virginia Gaglio.

“Our wing has three focused areas: Intelligence, cyber intelligence and cyber engineering and installation. These three mission sets require professionals to think differently, Colonel Gaglio said.

“Conflicts are no longer fought in other countries solely or in the domains of land, air and sea. Space and cyber space are now new domains that we must maintain a competitive edge.”

U.S. Congressman Bill Keating (D-MA 9th District) also spoke before the signing, pointing to challenge of maintaining enough personnel trained and educated in cyber security and research.

“So many times we’d train people and we’d lose them to the private sector. So many times we had needs and we didn’t have enough people to meet those needs. This is a solution to that problem,” Keating said.

“Too much of what we do as a government is often too costly and too narrow, because when we’re looking to meet these challenges we have to go out to the private sector, we have to go on a procurement basis and pay more. Here’s the solution, and it’s right here in our region in southeastern Massachusetts, no surprise there.”

Keating went on to stress the importance of cyber security to the nation, saying “these cyber challenges will remain with us.”

“On the Armed Services Committee, it is one of the most important challenges we have in our country today from a security standpoint, from a defense standpoint. This is going to strengthen that as well,” added Keating.

Following the signing, Gaglio held a presentation for students on current and future cybersecurity threats and challenges to the country, and how the 102nd Intelligence Wing works to counter them.

The signing ceremony was held inside the Charlton College of Business, located on UMass Dartmouth’s main campus.

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