Pitt Joins New DOE Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute

A hand on a laptop keyboardAs the technology underpinning the country’s manufacturing supply chain and energy grid have evolved, cyber attacks on them have become more complex as well.

To battle these national security threats, the University of Pittsburgh will join a $111 million, five-year agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to encourage American manufacturers and supply chains to adopt secure, energy-efficient approaches.

“The University of Pittsburgh is proud to be among the inaugural member institutions of this national effort to develop cyber security and energy research to benefit U.S. manufacturing expertise,” said Rob Rutenbar, Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for research. “Both our Swanson School of Engineering and School of Computing and Information are at the forefront of innovations in advanced manufacturing, cyber infrastructure and security, sustainable energy, materials science and supply chain management.”

Called Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII), Pitt joins 59 proposed member institutions in the public-private partnership, including three Department of Energy National Laboratories (Idaho National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories), four Manufacturing Innovation Institutes, 24 research universities, 18 industry leaders and 10 nonprofits.

The collaborative research and development through CyManII aim to help protect U.S. manufacturers against the threat of cyber criminals and nation-state adversaries. As part of its national strategy, CyManII will focus on three high priority areas: securing automation, securing the supply chain network, and building a national program for education and workforce development.

A man in a light yellow dress shirt in front of a gray background“The exploitation of advanced materials and computing can provide us with a more holistic approach to secure the nation’s manufacturing infrastructure, from communication networks and assembly lines to intricate computer code and distribution systems,” said Daniel Cole, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and co-director of the Swanson School’s Hacking for Defense program. “Just as our personal computers and cell phones are vulnerable to cyber attacks, so too is our complex manufacturing industry. But thanks to this national effort through CyManII, we will not only be able to develop defenses but also create more sustainable and energy efficient technologies for industry.”

Cole, whose current DOE-funded research involves uncovering cyber threats to the nuclear power industry, will serve as the principal investigator for Pitt’s membership in the consortium. Other faculty from across the Swanson School to join the partnership include electrical and computer engineering’s Alex Jones and Mai Abdelhakim, industrial engineering’s Mostafa Bedewy, and civil and environmental engineering’s Melissa Bilec.

Several experts from Pitt’s School of Computing and Information will build upon their work in cybersecurity, networking and privacy as part of CyManII, as well. They include Daniel Mosse, Jack Lange, Adam Lee and David Tipper. Michael Colaresi from Pitt Cyber will bring his expertise in national cybersecurity to the team.

“I am excited for the potential collaborations between Swanson School faculty and the many other partners in this initiative and the innovative technologies those collaborations will produce,” said David Vorp, associate dean for research at the Swanson School and co-founder of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing. “CyManII presents a new opportunity for us to engage in transformative, trans-disciplinary research and make an impact by developing solutions to the problems of today and tomorrow.”

Ultimately, the consortium will produce methods, standards and tools to address complex vulnerabilities in manufacturing in a wide array of machines and environments.

“As U.S. manufacturers increasingly deploy automation tools in their daily work, those technologies must be embedded with powerful cybersecurity protections,” said Howard Grimes, CyManII chief executive officer and the University of Texas at San Antonio’s associate vice president and associate vice provost for institutional initiatives. “UTSA has assembled a team of best-in-class national laboratories, industry, nonprofit and academic organizations to cybersecure the U.S. manufacturing enterprise. Together, we will share the mission to protect the nation’s supply chain, preserve its critical infrastructure and boost its economy.”