INSTITUTE, W.Va. — West Virginia State University is now bringing in cutting-edge cybersecurity technology to its campus helping to educate, innovate, and safeguard against threats.
WVSU was host to a grand opening event for its new Cybersecurity Innovation Center (CIC) Wednesday. University officials were joined by representatives from the Kanawha County Commission and Marshall University on the fourth floor of Wallace Hall where the center is now located.
WVSU President Ericke Cage said bringing CIC to campus is based on a vision he had when he came to the university in 2021, and it’s about innovation and taking WVSU into the future.
“I was adamant that West Virginia State University should be in the cybersecurity space, because we know cybersecurity is an incredibly high in-demand field,” Cage said.
WVSU collaborated with Marshall in a joint grant of $2.5 million through the United States Department of Education to help establish cybersecurity as critical infrastructure in the state.
In addition, the Kanawha County Commission awarded the university a grant of approximately $764,792 for the effort back in March of 2022, and Cage said such funding helped significantly to establish the center there.
Commissioner Lance Wheeler said the project came to fruition only in part due to their efforts.
“This happened not just because of the money that the Kanawha County Commission put in, but from the vision from President Cage, from your staff, from the employees making this happen today,” Wheeler said. “Money can sit in a bank account, but it’s what you all do with your blood, sweat and tears to make this happen.”
Cage said it’s not just a milestone for the school, but the entire state, and it aligns with WVSU’s overall mission as a land-grant university.
“As a land-grant university we have a tripartite mission which includes excellence in teaching, excellence in research, and excellence in community,” he said.
He said the center provides a hands-on laboratory experience for students in defending critical public infrastructure, and prepares them for being proficient in the real-world threats of cybersecurity. Some of the students in the program were on-hand Wednesday to demonstrate how the cybersecurity system works.
Cage said the development speaks to where the university and the state are headed in the future of higher education.
“Higher education is becoming more and more nimble, more and more adept at transforming itself to make sure we are meeting the demands of our students,” Cage said.
He said the project is not only meeting the demands of the students, however, but government employees and the community at-large by providing the latest techniques in protecting personal and business data from cyber-attacks, and providing awareness on the continuous evolution of such threats.
Cage said they will continue to work with Marshall in cybersecurity research, and they plan to provide community outreach through CIC by establishing a Cyber Defender Camp for youth.