Defense tech security firm to hire more than 50 amid opening new St. Petersburg 'incubator'

Mike Vaughn, co-founder and chief operations officer of VATC

ST. PETERSBURG — Visual Awareness Technologies and Consulting, a Tampa-based defense security firm, plans to hire more than 50 additional employees amid opening a new "tech incubator" in downtown St. Petersburg.

VATC, which employs more than 200 people in Tampa and in satellite offices around the world, is basing the incubator in the newly renovated First Central Tower, the former Florida Federal headquarters.

The company said the St. Petersburg operation will serve as a "hub of innovation" for developing technology solutions to help its customers in the military, intelligence and law enforcement sectors.

"This new office opening is representative of VATC's present growth and vision," company co-founder and chief operations officer Mike Vaughn said in a statement.

"As mission environments become more complex, technology must enable realistic training conditions in a rapidly changing environment. This new division will allow VATC to create innovative, top-of-the-line technology that keeps our clients the best prepared in the world."

Heading the new division will be Shands Pickett, vice president of Applied Research and Technology. His team will include technology engineers and developers with experience in the Department of Defense and intelligence communities.

As with past expansions, VATC expects to hire many local veterans for open positions.

For information about job openings at the company, visit