NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will participate in a five-year, $28.1 million U.S. Department of Energy initiative to improve computer/communication networks for energy delivery systems like power grids and pipelines, the agency announced recently.
TSU researchers will join a consortium of 11 universities and national laboratories led by the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign to improve the resilience and security of the cyber networks. These networks serve as the backbone of the infrastructure that delivers energy to the nation – known as energy delivery systems – for the electric power, oil and gas industries.
The university will receive $930,000 to conduct studies in security risk assessment, software-defined networking, robust control systems, and detection and classification of the impact of attacks on cyber-physical systems. TSU researchers will also design controller procedures to protect against specific attack categories.
Dr. Sachin Shetty, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a cyber security and networking systems expert, will lead the effort as project director. He will be assisted by Dr. L.H. Keel, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, as co-PI.
“The security of critical infrastructure, such as power grids, oil and gas refineries, nuclear power reactors and pipeline operations has attracted tremendous attention,” Shetty said. “There is growing awareness in the industry to safeguard cyber and physical resiliency and move beyond cyber security to ensure the nation’s energy delivery systems can operate in the presence of attacks caused by adversarial actions.”
The DOE has determined that the cyber network that supports many important functions within energy delivery systems is vulnerable to disturbances, Shetty added. He said the Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium (CREDC) is intended to identify and perform cutting-edge research and increase the resiliency of energy delivery systems. This includes helping industry identify reasons for investing in technology that increases cyber resiliency in EDS; developing, validating, and verifying high-impact solutions in partnership with industry advocates; and making developed solutions commercially available through development of open-source communities and licensing arrangements.
Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering, called the partnership with the CREDC part of his college’s “strategic initiative” to train and educate a more diverse workforce in cyber security.
“The Cyber Resilient Energy Delivery Consortium will respond to the Department of Energy ‘s demand for detection, analysis, monitoring, and risk assessment technologies to protect energy delivery systems,” Hargrove said. “It also will further enhance TSU’s capacity in cyber security.”
As part of an outreach effort, during the study, TSU will also focus on enhancing curriculum to incorporate EDS cyber security and cyber-resiliency issues, Shetty said. “The (TSU) team will focus on workforce development at undergraduate and graduate levels to provide a pipeline of well-trained engineers for these sectors.”
In addition to TSU and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, the consortium includes research experts from Argonne National Laboratory, Arizona State University, Dartmouth College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Rutgers University, University of Houston and Washington State University.
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