FBI deputy director speaks at Auburn

Published 8:00 am Saturday, February 1, 2020

Auburn University

AUBURN — FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich brought a message of strength through partnerships to Auburn University Friday, addressing his agency’s efforts since 9/11, and its expanding outreach mission with academia.

He called on students to serve their country — within the FBI or otherwise — and said there is increased opportunity to join the agency in Huntsville, Alabama, as the FBI is growing its operations there. The signing of a memorandum of understanding with Auburn during his campus visit will help address the demand for a larger future workforce trained in such disciplines as STEM and foreign language.

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“This profession is rapidly changing,” Bowdich said. “We can’t recruit like we used to.”

He said that since 9/11 his agency has also worked hard to build the connections needed to best protect the nation.

“I’m not saying that it could not occur, it could, but we stay vigilant throughout the U.S. intel community to ensure that it never happens again — a 9/11 style attack — and I feel much more confident that that would be difficult to carry out because of all the logistics, the planning, the financial aspects to it, the communications that have to take place,” Bowdich said.

Bowdich said by working with academia, the FBI is only further strengthening its focus in defending against a new set of threats through technological and artificial intelligence advancements.

The agreement calls Auburn a partner with the FBI as it expands its workforce and operations at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. The university will educate and train bureau employees, and provide the next generation of specialists needed to take on critical roles across the agency. The FBI and Auburn will also share mutually beneficial information, research and technology that advances criminal justice and student and faculty opportunities.

The agency’s $1 billion investment to build a state-of-the-art campus in Huntsville will involve moving more than 1,000 FBI employees from Washington, D.C., and potentially adding thousands of additional jobs to Huntsville’s employment.

“The FBI making a significant presence in Huntsville enables Auburn to take on a leadership role to work jointly on threats targeting critical infrastructure sectors such as power and telecommunications,” said Rodney Robertson, executive director of the Auburn University Huntsville Research Center. “The impact this partnership will have will not only benefit the state of Alabama, but the nation as a whole as threat intelligence for analysis leads to a better understanding of new and emerging threats targeting our networks.”