Over the past year, commuters along Interstate 95 have watched a unique building rise at the Quantico Corporate Center.
Unlike the nondescript offices nearby, the new $10 million Quantico Cyber Hub includes a large framed X on either side of the building (and an X visible from the air on the roof).
X Corp Solutions founder and CEO Cesar Nader expects the new building will draw attention for more than its unique design.
The 30,000-square-foot, three-story building is expected to house the headquarters of the company, which has more than 150 employees providing a variety of contract services across 21 states, including staffing, intelligence and security support, facility management and training and education.
The building also will offer an innovative new home for cyber education courses and shared space for innovation, Nader said.
“I knew Stafford needed something iconic,” he said of the unique look. “If we’re going to be the hub for cybersecurity, you don’t want to go to a typical office building. You want to go somewhere inspirational — a Hall of Justice.”
After serving as a linguist in the Marines, Nader opened the business with clients that needed his experience.
“Over the course of the last eight years, I started to see a lot more demand for ‘X’ men who had language skills, but also had technology skills,” he said. “I started to see a gap in the market where large companies couldn’t find the kind of talent that I could find.”
After winning a cyber security contract with the federal government, Nader realized the evolving challenge the industry is facing.
“There’s not enough professionals in the workforce; those who are, aren’t fully qualified; and the needs of the cyber security industry keep getting bigger and becoming more complex,” Nadar said, noting jobs are becoming more targeted and specific, while also branching out as new threats require new solutions.
When he couldn’t find enough talent to fulfill a 76-person contract, Nader decided he’d purchase space to train his own people, but then he realized that the government and other companies were facing the same problem.
When it opens next month, the new building will be partnering with Southern University to offer state-of-the-art classrooms for courses on cybersecurity.
Classes will be able to be streamed to other Southern campuses and there will be certification programs for professionals already working in the cyber security field or seeking employment.
“What Stafford will have is the ability to have a certified national testing center, not just for cyber, but anything that requires certifications,” Nader said.
The first round of courses is expected to be offered Sept. 1.
“The most popular courses is ethical hacker, network plus, security plus…it’ll be a five-day course and you’ll be certified at the end of that course,” Nader said.
There will also be collaborative space for X Corp’s American Cyber League and its nonprofit Cyber Bytes. The company hopes to build an “agnostic Cyber Domain Ecosystem” to develop and accelerate new ideas in cyber technology and security.
“People can come and talk about what they’re working on, see what’s being worked on and be a part of that cross-pollination of capabilities, people and process,” Nader said.
There also will be a separate space for shared work on projects.
“This will be a professional breeding ground for cyber warriors,” he said.
Nader recently took InsideNoVa on a tour of the building as final work was underway. The first floor will have space for a cyber security wall of fame, a cyber cafe and several classrooms and workshops. The second floor will largely offer open, collaborative environments.
Cyber professionals can come and mingle, network and learn on the first floor, and then contribute, experiment and play on the second floor, Nadar noted.
On the third floor, Nader’s office sits between the large X on the side of the building with a view overlooking his next project: a planned $28 million advanced data analytics science center.
“You’ll do cloud computing, data analytics, modeling and simulation,” Nader said.
And he hopes to one day add to that vision with a cyber security conference and expo center down the road.
Nadar recognizes that he isn’t the only budding cyber site in the region. Amazon is building its $2.5 billion headquarters in Crystal City and Virginia Tech is investing in a satellite campus nearby in Alexandria.
But Nadar knows commuters will be heading to Arlington and Alexandria on Interstate 95 and they’ll second-guess that trip.
“They’ll see this building and ask, ‘Why don’t I work out of Stafford?’” he said. “As a county, we have to look to the future and not trail behind.”