Gloucestershire College unveils new cyber facilities at Cheltenham campus

Cyber centre at Glos College

Gloucestershire College has revealed its new cyber and engineering facilities located at the college’s Cheltenham campus, located next door to GCHQ and the proposed cyber park being planned as part of the Golden Valley development.

And the new facilities include an “attack and defence room” where students and local companies can release their full ingenuity against hypothetical cyber hacker threats, safe the knowledge that the networking in that room is completely separate from the rest of the college, and won’t bring learning at the Cheltenham campus to a halt.

The new initiative is part of the West of England Institute of Technology (WEIoT), one of only 12 national Institutes of Technology licensed by the Department for Education to support local employers in developing higher level skills and to 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 Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership (GFirst LEP)’s local industrial strategy.

As part of the WEIoT, Gloucestershire College secured £3 million to invest in engineering lab equipment and the high tech cyber training centre known as ADA: The Advanced Digital Academy, named after Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer (born in 1815 and died in 1852 at the tender age of just 37, she was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She was the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, and to have published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. Quite a woman I think you’ll agree!)

Gloucestershire College’s new WEIoT facilities are equipped with the latest hardware and software, providing students and apprentices with the best environment to learn.

The WEIoT computing and cyber facilities are made up of eight computing labs, cyber-forensics tool kits, collaborative working areas and study pods. The jewel in the crown is the “attack and defence room”. Powered by Intel Core i7-9800X processors, GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB Graphics Cards and a massive 32GB 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.

At Gloucestershire College’s Cheltenham campus, thanks to the new WEIoT facilities, the college 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 & 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 Gloucestershire College and will develop much needed technical skills and employability potential for our region.”

The WEIoT consortium of education providers includes Gloucestershire College, Weston CollegeUWE BristolBath College, and Yeovil College as well as a network of key local employers, including; GE AviationRenishaw and Bamboo Technology.

Claire Arbery, Director of WEIoT, said: “The creation of the cyber training facilities really reflects those in industry, and will truly support businesses to be ready to flex and adapt their businesses to make the most of the full range of opportunities as the UK economy recovers and grows.”