TU, Team8 establish elite cyber fellows program

The University of Tulsa (TU), a leader in cyber education and research, together with venture group Team8, today announced a first-of-its-kind fellowship program to create experts in cyber R&D, establishing the foundation for a new wave of highly skilled talent. The joint program will provide a new route for Team8 and TU to identify and develop breakthrough technology innovation.

The TU-Team8 Cyber Fellows program is designed for students seeking to advance cyber R&D across security, big data and artificial intelligence, creating new methods and commercially viable solutions that enable a secure and productive all-digital future. Enrolling 10 students per year, the highly competitive four-year doctoral program will bring together TU’s College of Engineering & Natural Sciences and Team8’s ecosystem and experience to identify and explore key industry challenges in real-world situations.

“Cyber attacks pose a dangerous threat to our banking, retail, health and energy sectors,” said TU President Gerard P. Clancy. “There is a critical need to expand cyber research, innovation and entrepreneurship to thwart such attacks and to ensure the quality of cyber services, vendors and products in supply chains, manufactured products and insurance ratings. TU and Team8 are helping to fill the void.”

TU’s partnership with Team8 draws on its unique company-building model that brings technologies across cyber, data science and artificial intelligence to market. The proven model involves identifying, training and recruiting world-class R&D talent, an in-depth understanding of the attacker perspective and an intimate network of world-leading corporate decision-makers. Backed by global powerhouses including Microsoft, Walmart, AT&T and Cisco, Team8 has launched category-leading companies and is dually headquartered in New York and Tel Aviv. Former NSA Director Admiral (Ret.) Mike Rogers is a senior adviser to the group. Temasek’s $250 million acquisition of cyber consultancy Sygnia is amongst Team8’s noteworthy portfolio achievements. Team8 will place a full-time research director at TU to spur the commercialization of new projects.

“We’re really excited to broaden our academic program and partner with TU to foster  groundbreaking scientific breakthroughs,” said Team8 co-founder and CEO Nadav Zafrir. “This fellowship creates a unique opportunity to help students develop advanced transformative technologies and solutions that hold the potential to significantly impact  the most pressing challenges of our digital world.”

A limited number of fellows will be selected. Successful fellowships will culminate in an advanced degree bestowed by The University of Tulsa. The full scholarship covers all tuition, an annual living stipend/salary and the benefits provided to university graduate student employees. Fellows who remain in Tulsa for at least two years after graduation will be eligible for a $20,000 bonus.

“The TU-Team8 Cyber Fellows program will play a key role in recruiting Oklahoma’s future job creators and retaining Oklahoma’s most promising STEM students with the opportunity to achieve doctoral degrees,” said Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. “I applaud the innovation and vision of TU and Team8 as we work together as a state to attract and retain the best talent in the technology field.”

“TU faculty have been working diligently with Team8 to bring this exciting opportunity for graduate education and research to fruition. This program will build upon the strong foundation of collaboration we enjoy across the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences,” said Rose Gamble, Tandy Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and associate dean for research and academic affairs.

TU is one of the country’s top private research institutions, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, computer science and cybersecurity. The university has a track record of producing exceptional cyber talent, highlighted in 2012 when the NSA selected TU as one of four U.S. universities to run a cyber talent program. The joint program with Team8 is unique in the cyber field, also building upon TU’s history of industry partnerships that foster hands-on experience, solutions to real-world problems and a strong talent stream.

“This partnership between The University of Tulsa and Team8 combines world-leading intellectual capital with international private sector expertise in a way that sets the stage for incredible opportunities as we seek to make Tulsa an emerging cyber force,” said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum. “This program makes it clear that Tulsa is at the forefront of this promising industry.”

“TU has been a steadfast and significant contributor to the fresh ideas and solutions that are moving our region forward,” said Mike Neal, president and chief executive officer of the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “They continue to lead by example through their partnership with Team8, adding to the school’s rich legacy of creating innovative pathways for TU students to make Tulsa a world-class community for both employers and employees.”

The competitive fellowship is expected to draw some of the brightest minds in cybersecurity to Tulsa, with incentives to stay in the area after completing the program and bolster the city’s burgeoning cyber industry. The City of Tulsa is working to create a technology-rich opportunity zone that links downtown to the university.

“The rapidly growing need for cyber security talent, research, and innovation is fueling exciting opportunities for which the University of Tulsa is well-positioned to build upon. The TU Cyber Fellows program is yet another bold step in Tulsa’s ongoing development as a hub for innovation,” said Roger Ramseyer, Tulsa market leader for Cox Communications. “As part of a leading technology company and as 2020 chair of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, TU’s exciting partnership has all kinds of positive implications for our businesses and community.”

“Tulsa has made a concerted effort to develop a reputation as a hub for cybersecurity, and that work is continuing through this new program that seeks to build not only cutting-edge cyber researchers but also entrepreneurs and C-suite executives,” said Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell. “The fellowship sets Oklahoma apart and fuels a new high-tech boom with great jobs and a bright future.”

The fellowship is sponsored by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, a Tulsa-based charitable organization that has long supported educational opportunities, social services and civic enhancements – among other worthy projects. This fellowship is part of a wider innovative initiative by GKFF drawing upon innovation in the Tulsa region.

“TU is a crucial institution for the Tulsa community and is a center of excellence for cyber leaders in the nation,” said GKFF Senior Program Officer Ben Stewart. “GKFF is pleased to support this initiative that will contribute to graduates remaining invested in Tulsa’s community for the long-term.”

Graduates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in science and a strong passion and acumen in a cyber-related area should submit an application to TU’s graduate program here.