Innovation Nominee

Minnesota Cyber Institute
Metropolitan State University

As Minnesota’s first and only simulator platform, MN Cyber Range is used to train and certify new IT and Cyber Security professionals through a world-class system and network threat simulation center where students are given the opportunity to repel live intrusion efforts created by instructors and respond to real-world threats that are occurring today.

“This program is Metropolitan State’s most recent disruptive solution to a multi-sector human capital logjam. It provides students and career-changers with a laddered career path into the cybersecurity sector.” –Metropolitan State University President Virginia “Ginny” Arthur (June 2018)

These experiences make it possible for security professionals to advance their careers by staying current in their skills and knowledge of cybersecurity attacks and threat detection As a testament to Faisal’s leadership and dedication, the Institute welcomed its’ first students for the cyber range in June 2018 at Metropolitan State University and has already graduated a number of students. Metropolitan State University currently offers the only BS in Cybersecurity degree in the Twin Cities, and the Masters in Cybersecurity will launch in Fall 2020. The University is designated as Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) by DHS and NSA.

The Cyber Institute grew from solid bones and a foundation of collaboration. Faisal helped build a powerful advisory board comprised of CISO and Senior Directors of many major organizations in Minnesota (Target, Best Buy, General Mills, United Health Group, and more), including bi-partisan State Legislators. Substantial work is underway to obtain private, as well as State funding for the program; Faisal already brought more than a million-dollar from Federal grants to support his cyber vision.

When Faisal joined Metropolitan State University in 2014, he led the University into its first Cyber Collegiate Defense Competition (CCDC). Between Spring 2015 through Spring 2019, Metro State has placed within the top three teams in the State and qualified twice for the regional competition. The competitions not only brought expertise to the Institute initiative, but helped set the foundation for ways to bring awareness of the importance of teamwork in resolving cyber issues. Most students who have participated in these competitions have been hired by Institute partners (Target, Best Buy, 3M, Medtronic, Fairview, and others.)

Also offered through the Minnesota Cyber Institute is the MN Cyber Academy, dedicated to professional training and the MN Cyber Pathways, dedicated to generating cybersecurity career interest in K-12 youth. Physical space has been secured for expanding the Institute and two bills are advancing in the Legislature to bring additional funding to the MN Cyber Initiative.

For its innovation, strong leadership and enormous benefit to the State of Minnesota, the Minnesota Cyber Institute under the leadership of Executive Director Faisal Kaleem is worthy of recognition through the 2019 GovIT Award.

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Steering Committee

Alex Hepp, City of Hopkins
Bill Bleckwehl, Cisco
Dave Andrews, DEED
Jay Wyant, Minnesota IT Services
Jim Hall, Ramsey County
Matt Bailey, IBM
Melissa Reeder, League of Minnesota Cities
Nathan Beran, City of New Ulm
Sue Wallace, IT Futures Foundation
Lisa Meredith, Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative
Justin Kaufman, Minnesota IT Services
Renee Heinbuch, Washington County/MNCITLA
Jerine Rosato, Ramsey County
David Berthiaume, Minnesota IT Services
Cory Tramm, Sourcewell Tech 

Content Committee

Tomas Alvarez, Federal Reserve
Tom Ammons, MN.IT – Central
Dave Andrews, MN State Services for the Blind
Susan Bousquet, MN.IT – DOT
Robert Granvin, Metro State
Alex Hepp, City of Hopkins
Shawntan Howell, Ramsey County
Jenny Johnson, Metropolitan Council
Millicent Kasal, MN.IT – Central
Ping Li, MN.IT – MMB
Chibuzor Nnaji, MN.IT – DHS
Mehrdad Shabestari, MN.IT – Central