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Peters Hosts National Cyber Director Harry Coker Jr. in Metro Detroit

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, was joined by National Cyber Director Harry Coker Jr., for a series of meetings in metro Detroit to discuss the importance of preparing and recruiting a strong cybersecurity workforce. Peters and Coker toured University of Detroit Mercy’s (Detroit Mercy) Vehicle Cyber Engineering Program to see how students are engaging in critical cybersecurity labs. They also met with government and industry leaders to emphasize the need to develop a strong cyber workforce for Michigan’s defense and automotive industries. Peters and Coker then concluded their visit with a tour of Michigan Central Station – the new location of a hub for mobility innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability and community development. 

“I was honored to host National Cyber Director Harry Coker Jr. in Michigan today to meet with innovative students and leaders in cybersecurity to discuss the importance of preparing a strong cybersecurity workforce,” said Senator Peters. “As cybersecurity threats become increasingly common and complex, we must strengthen our defenses at every level – from our manufacturing and defense industries to health care and critical infrastructure. I am grateful to Director Coker for committing his time to meet with Michiganders, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to address the many cybersecurity challenges facing our state and our entire nation.”  

“Today in Detroit, we saw not only a hub of innovation but also incredible cyber talent that we so badly need to protect this great nation,” said White House National Cyber Director Harry Coker, Jr. “Here in Michigan, there are nearly 10,000 open cybersecurity jobs and almost half of those jobs are in the Detroit area. Building a pipeline of talent to fill these vital positions is imperative to making sure our critical infrastructure and our nation remain secure, a key element of President Biden’s National Cybersecurity Strategy. Today I was impressed by the dedicated ecosystem of startups, schools and industry working together to facilitate that talent and I was particularly impressed by the thoughtfulness of the students. I am grateful to Chairman Peters, Detroit Mercy and Michigan Central for welcoming me to Michigan and for the Chairman’s continued leadership and partnership building the nation’s cybersecurity workforce and bringing good-paying cyber jobs to Michigan.” 

During the visit, Peters and Coker met with faculty and students from Detroit Mercy to hear firsthand how students are being prepared to enter in-demand cybersecurity jobs across Michigan’s automotive and defense sectors. Peters has long recognized the need to help recruit, develop, and retain highly skilled cybersecurity professionals and authored legislation that was signed into law to do so for the federal workforce. This law will help federal agencies defend networks and retain qualified cybersecurity employees. 

“It was a pleasure to host Senator Peters and Director Coker. We were excited to hear them talk about our initiatives and successes at Detroit Mercy. More importantly, it allowed the Senator and Director to meet with and talk with our students their education and their experiences in cybersecurity,” said Professor Pamela Zarkowski, JD, MPH,Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Peters and Coker also met with industry and government officials to discuss how the federal government and industry can work collaboratively to address emerging issues related cybersecurity threats, vehicle cybersecurity, workforce development and artificial intelligence. These conversations provided insight into how the industry is working to protect against cybersecurity threats. 

Finally, Peters and Coker concluded their visit at Michigan Central Station to tour the new site of an innovation district. The space will be used to train and educate people of all ages for high-skilled cybersecurity jobs. Peters and Coker were joined by project leaders to highlight how this hub will help bolster a strong, vibrant tech workforce in Michigan. 

To see pictures of the visit, click here.