Department of Energy Invests $15M Into 6 Universities for Cybersecurity Centers

The centers will focus on cybersecurity research and educate energy professionals.
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Published on April 5, 2024
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  • The cybersecurity centers will work with Department of Energy national labs and energy sector owners, operators, and vendors.
  • The University of Connecticut, Iowa State University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Texas Tech University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Florida International University were selected for the cybersecurity centers.
  • The global cybersecurity workforce grew 8.7% from last year, according to a study.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is funding cybersecurity education and research with a $15 million investment in electric power cybersecurity centers at six universities.

The DOE announced the centers March 28. The centers will work with DOE national labs and energy sector owners, operators, and vendors to research and develop cybersecurity training.

"This investment in university-based cybersecurity centers will enable us to simultaneously grow the U.S. cyber workforce and build the expertise we need to take on the evolving cyber threats to our nation's energy systems," said Puesh M. Kumar, director of the Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response.

The demand for cybersecurity engineers is growing nationally — and globally. The global cybersecurity workforce grew 8.7% from last year, according to a study by ISC2. Information security analyst is projected to be the fifth fastest-growing career in the U.S. through 2032, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The universities' six cybersecurity centers will further cybersecurity education and offer programs for energy industry professionals to learn how to guard energy infrastructure.

The University of Connecticut, Iowa State University, the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), and Texas Tech University will educate and conduct research on cyberattacks against public energy grids and how to isolate, mitigate, and recover from attacks. All but IIT are also researching improvements to rural area energy infrastructure.

The University of Pittsburgh's Cyber Energy Center will further cybersecurity research and practice protecting energy systems through virtual models to prepare for cyberattacks in real life.

Florida International University will focus on "hiding" systems from attackers to make them more difficult to target.

"The U.S. competitive advantage has always depended on cutting-edge research and a high-skilled workforce," Kumar said. "Through these projects, we are advancing our economic and national security."

Another school in Florida has recently made strides in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI). The University of South Florida (USF) recently announced plans for a dedicated cybersecurity and AI college on all campuses. The college plans to launch in the fall of 2025, pending some approval steps.

USF plans to continue partnering with cybersecurity organization Cyber Florida and offer undergraduate, graduate, professional, certificate, and continuing education programs with interdisciplinary focuses.

Other smaller colleges and universities across the country are also gearing up to train cybersecurity students.

Rivier University in New Hampshire will offer a master of business administration program in cybersecurity leadership to accommodate national needs, and Austin Community College in Texas provides a cybersecurity bachelor's degree.