University officials unveiled a new cybersecurity lab in Prince Frederick Hall on Thursday, which they said will further the collaborative relationship between the university and defense conglomerate Northrop Grumman and will give ACES students access to an advanced center for research.
“What this shows, of course, is the power of partnerships,” university President Wallace Loh said to the crowd of professors, corporate representatives and members of the Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students honors program. “Either partner or perish.”
The university launched ACES last fall with the help of a $1.1 million grant from Northrop Grumman. Part of this grant funds the new ACES Northrop Grumman Laboratory in the basement of Prince Frederick Hall, the newly constructed dorm that houses ACES, a four-year living-learning program.
There were high hopes for ACES and the computer lab at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“This program is training 112 of you — and many more of you to come — training the best and brightest of you to face the cybersecurity challenges that will be essential for the security of our country,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said, citing cybersecurity threats as the nation’s greatest security danger.
Wes Bush, president and CEO of Northrop Grumman, echoed that sentiment, saying that not a day goes by without a cybersecurity breach in the news. Innovation and talent, he said, are necessary to curb the ongoing threat.
“That’s what ACES is — it’s an innovation. It’s a step forward,” Bush said. “I’m excited about it because it is a new model, not just for the way people teach cybersecurity, but also in the way that businesses and colleges can work together to make innovation possible.”
Students said they plan to use the lab, which will include new computers and screen-projection stations, both for classes and personal projects.
“The ACES lab is definitely a benefit to our competition teams, and I look forward to using it in our seminar classes,” said Sydnee Shannon, a sophomore mathematics major, ACES student and Northrop Grumman intern.
Jeremy Krach, a sophomore computer science major and ACES student, is working on a project that uses Facebook photos to accurately identify people’s faces, a project he said would benefit from the new workspace.
“There’s a lot of really cool technology,” Krach said. “It’s really exciting.”
Noting how impressed he was with the students’ intelligence and the interest they showed in their work, Bush said he wished he could hire all of them at Northrop Grumman. He said the program and the new lab space would provide students with very marketable skills.
“We were talking about the challenge of bringing businesses and higher education together, and we decided, why don’t we stop talking and go do something about it?” Bush said. “The idea is to create a real environment where students can practice these skills that they learn.”