UTSA Creating Opportunities for Outliers

UTSA Creating Opportunities for Outliers

The University of Texas at San Antonio announced an expansion to their cybersecurity and data sciences programs. This creates opportunity for outliers.

The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) recently announced an expansion of their cybersecurity and data sciences programs. This ambitious project is aimed at fulfilling a need in the future- qualified cybersecurity specialists and data scientists. The University of Texas Board of Regents approved a $70 million investment in the program. Graham Weston, founder of Rackspace and a San Antonio-area investor, has also contributed $15 million. This new center will be creating thousands, possibly millions, of career opportunities in the cybersecurity industry. There is another opportunity, albeit indirectly, that UTSA is creating. An opportunity for an outlier.


Back in 2011, Malcolm Gladwell, the author of the bestselling "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking", published "Outliers: The Story of Success". In "Outliers", Gladwell argues that successful people, though hardworking, were uniquely positioned in history to take advantage of a new opportunity.

NHL All-Stars

Within the first chapter, Gladwell breaks down the rosters of the NHL All-Star Team. These are the players who consistently outperform their teammates and rivals, the best-of-the-best. And Gladwell points out a commonality among most of them- their birthdays. Most of the NHL All-Stars have birthdays that fall within the first three months of the year. The reason for this is junior hockey leagues have the age cutoff on January 1st. All players born during that year end up on teams competing against each other. Gladwell points out that players of the same age are not all the same. Those born in January, February, and March will have a slight age advantage. Thanks to their early births, they develop a little bit more than those born in the latter part of the year. Thanks to this slight age advantage, these players perform just a little bit better than the rest. And when it comes time to pick the players to join the traveling teams, these are the ones who most likely make the cut. Thanks to this slight advantage, they find themselves on a team with dedicating coaching. Now the slight advantage becomes a more noticeable one. This doesn’t mean all NHL All-Stars are born between January and March. There are still All-Stars whose birthdays fall between April and December. Gladwell’s simply pointing out that they’re in the minority here. These players who have a slight advantage were able to turn into an even bigger one when the right opportunity came along. Gladwell goes on to identify other outliers who followed a similar path.

Bill Gates

Thanks to his enrollment in a private school, Bill Gates had access to technology few others had- the computer. He was part of a coding club at the time, and they were given a computer to work on during club meetings. They also were given a block of coding time at General Electric Computers. Thanks to this computer and the coding time, Gates and his fellow club members found coding interesting and fun. By learning to code at a young age, Gates already had a firm handle on the topic when he reached Harvard. When his friend Paul Allen approached him with a business idea, Gates seized on the opportunity. This would eventually lead to Microsoft and Gates status as creator of the personal computer. There was an opportunity and Gates jumped on it. At the time, coding wasn’t a well-known hobby, at least, not for kids. For Gates to have experience at such a young age, Gladwell marked him as an outlier. The remainder of Outliers is full of examples of people, or groups of people, who fit into a strange criterion identified by Gladwell. This set of criteria is mostly hindsight. Because who would know that computers would be such a hit? Or that coding would become so important? There is one thing Gladwell keeps circling back to- seizing opportunities.

What’s UTSA Doing?

The University of Texas at San Antonio has been aggressively expanding their programs and working to establish themselves as a top-tier school in the United States. On September 6th, UTSA announced plans to expand their cybersecurity and data science programs, as well as create two new facilities; The National Security Collaboration Center (NSCC), and the School of Data Science. A new facility will house these two new schools. This new facility will be part of an ongoing plan to expand UTSA’s campus in downtown San Antonio. According to Sean Attwood, the Senior Director of Workforce Management for SA Works, the new center will fill a widening gap in the cybersecurity industry. As the tech sector grows, there’s a need for more and more qualified specialists in this field. Some sources state that by 2019 there will be two million jobs in this field without qualified candidates to fill them. UTSA’s expansion will go a long way in filling that need.

The Silicon Valley of Cybersecurity and Data Science

The creation of the NSCC is only part of San Antonio’s potential. As more and more cybersecurity and data science jobs are required, UTSA is going to need to fill the classrooms first before they can offer qualified applicants. But plans are already in place to fill that need. UTSA, as well as school districts in and around San Antonio, has launched initiatives to help students get a jump start on the learning curve. Schools already have coding classes and specialized programs to promote interest in this growing field. A common practice among area schools is for students to pick a specific career track. Based on their choice, students will receive focused instruction for their chosen career path. Getting students to think about this choice earlier is part of a larger initiative to create quality enrollment for colleges. Especially UTSA. With quality enrollment, students are more likely to enter a field related to their degree. Thanks to these initiatives and efforts, San Antonio is poised to be the cybersecurity capital of the nation. The city already has the second largest concentration of cybersecurity and defense professionals after Washington DC and UTSA is first when comes to cybersecurity education.

Further Advantages

Having the 24th and 25th Air Force Wings within the city limits is also a huge plus. The 24th Wing concerns itself with the global cyberspace capabilities of the Air Force, specifically, cybersecurity. The 25th Wing of the Air Force provides security throughout the Air Force overall. With these two wings stationed in San Antonio, there’s an above-average number of trained professionals in cybersecurity, as well as data sciences, in that area. As a result, there is an abundance of cybersecurity companies and consultancy firms with headquarters here. According to Attwood, over 90% of those companies are working on government contracts. What about the commercial side? When commercial companies catch on to this, San Antonio will explode with potential.

Providing an Opportunity

As cyber security and data sciences grow in importance, the stage is set for another Bill Gates-like entrepreneur to rise in the ranks. It’s likely this person (could be either a woman or a man) has already been born and is in grade school right now. As they grow and see the need for innovations in cybersecurity, they’ll most likely think up the next big thing. One more point Gladwell made in his book- timing. Gates, NHL All-Stars, and other successful people were typically born at the right time to take advantage of a new opportunity. If they were born too early, they're following the “old ways." If they were born too late, they're too young to take advantage. The timing had to be just right. As UTSA builds the NSCC and expands their Data Sciences department, don't be surprised when an outlier appears. And it may not be one, but five, ten, possibly a hundred outliers who come through the San Antonio area and end up changing how we see cybersecurity and data sciences. Check out what’s happening with UTSA and the San Antonio area by getting the best internet deals. You can also find and download Gladwell’s Outliers to learn more about the opportunities that could lead to success and monumental change.