VCU part of $111M cybersecurity manufacturing partnership

Milos Manic, Ph.D.
Milos Manic, Ph.D., will lead VCU’s efforts in this initiative.

VCU is part of a public-private partnership led by the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) to help secure U.S. industrial infrastructure against cyber attacks.

On Nov. 19, UTSA launched the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII), a five-year, $111 million public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and 59 proposed member institutions working to make U.S. advanced manufacturing more energy efficient, resilient and globally competitive against the nation’s adversaries.

U.S. manufacturers are one of the top targets for cyber criminals and nation-state adversaries, impacting the production of energy technologies such as electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines. Integration across the supply chain network and increased use of automation in manufacturing processes can make industrial infrastructures vulnerable to cyber attacks.

As a partner in this initiative, VCU will provide advanced expertise in securing automation. VCU’s Cybersecurity Center will lead the university’s efforts in this partnership. The center serves as a regional resource hub for cyber defense research and education throughout central Virginia. Its director is Milos Manic, Ph.D., a professor of computer science in the VCU College of Engineering and an internationally recognized expert in cybersecurity for energy and critical infrastructures.

Under Manic’s leadership, the VCU Cybersecurity Center will develop secure, resilient automation by creating new artificial intelligence and machine learning approaches to anomaly detection in complex systems that are vulnerable to cyber threats.

“VCU and its Cybersecurity Center will play a strategic role in cybersecurity and securing automation within the CyManII institute,” Manic said. “The versatile skills of our center’s fellows enable us to continue demonstrating leadership in this field in the nation."

As part of its national strategy, CyManII will focus on three high priority areas where collaborative research and development can help U.S. manufacturers: securing automation, securing the supply chain network and building a national program for education and workforce development.

CyManII’s research objectives will focus on understanding the evolving cybersecurity threats to greater energy efficiency in manufacturing industries. The consortium will also work to develop new cybersecurity technologies and methods, and share knowledge with the broader community of U.S. manufacturers.

The institute aims to revolutionize cybersecurity in manufacturing by designing and building a secure manufacturing architecture that is pervasive, unobtrusive and enables energy efficiency.

These efforts will result in a suite of methods, standards and tools to address the comprehensive landscape of complex vulnerabilities in a wide array of machines and environments.

CyManII’s 59 proposed members include the DOE’s Idaho, Oak Ridge and Sandia national laboratories; four manufacturing innovation institutes; 24 research universities; 18 industry leaders and 10 nonprofits.

This national network aims to solve pressing challenges facing cybersecurity in the U.S manufacturing industry.