Advanced Security


Advanced Security Technology Research Alliance (ASTRA)

Lowcountry, South Carolina


Derrick Nixon, Deputy Division Manager, ManTec International Corporation


The Advanced Security Technology Research Alliance (ASTRA) brings together business leaders, academia, industry leaders and technology professionals, and seeks to promote South Carolina’s existing cyber security industry, increase South Carolina’s leadership and innovation within the sector, and increase the state's competitiveness in the one of the state’s fast-growing industry sectors.

Nearly all of the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security agencies are represented in Charleston, coupled with one of the nation's largest ocean ports and a growing medical research center. Charleston has become a hub of research and development, practical testing and pilot initiatives for a wide range of security solutions.

ASTRA will establish the Charleston region as a national leader and preeminent solutions source of information assurance, cyber security, advanced robotics, and unmanned and autonomous vehicle systems for the Department of Defense (DoD), other Federal entities and private industry.  ASTRA will be a catalyst in South Carolina for transforming the culture of advanced security and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) educational opportunities in both the University system and K-12 institutions while enhancing the research capabilities of these focus areas.  ASTRA will serve as the critical conduit to unite cyber security and information assurance industry leaders to the DoD, South Carolina Universities, and K-12 institutions.

Success Stories

In 2009, ASTRA announced new workforce training initiatives designed to strengthen South Carolina’s existing security cluster. Two training programs focused on cyber security were offered in the Lowcountry to help build a highly skilled workforce ready to meet the needs of advanced security businesses.

ASTRA received a $67,200 grant from the Trident Workforce Investment Board to offer two training programs in the Charleston area in Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) Security, from SOA Systems, Inc., and Security+, from CompTIA. These certification programs allow workers to display competency in areas such as system security, network infrastructure, access control and organizational security.

Dan Neason, an ASTRA board member and vice president of Modus21, a high-tech consultancy based in Mount Pleasant said, "Cyber security is now a top priority for the United States, as evidenced by the government’s announced cyber military command. Charleston is already a strategic spot for information assurance and cyber security with SPAWAR [Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center] and a large community of defense contractors in the area. We’ve got a workforce well-positioned to meet the cyber security demand; however, cyber security requirements change quickly, so the workforce must have access to training. This is why ASTRA has focused on training—we want to help keep the region ahead of competition.”

ASTRA is working with local universities and education providers to create additional training and certification opportunities for employees of ASTRA members, and plans to redevelop the trainings for 2010.



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