HUNTINGTON — Marshall University officially launched its newly formed Institute for Cyber Security (ICS) on Wednesday in the Weisberg Applied Engineering Complex.
“This is a partnership between WVU and others in the federal government to create opportunities in cybersecurity,” said Marshall President Jerome Gilbert.
Gilbert said the institute is an academic and research cluster that will support cybersecurity-related programs across the campus, drawing on personnel — regardless of current academic affiliation — who are identified as having the skills needed to advance academic, research, external outreach, training and certification programs.
“We can do research and teaching to expand our presence in the cyber arena,” Gilbert said.
Marshall officials said ICS will bring together hardware and software engineers, forensic scientists, cybersecurity practitioners and policy experts to address emerging needs in cybersecurity through multidisciplinary, cutting-edge research, education and outreach programs.
ICS will combine four different college degrees and two different colleges, according to David Dampier, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences.
“This is a multi-college institute to cover all aspects of cybersecurity,” Dampier said. “The institute will focus multiple colleges working in cybersecurity in one direction for the university. Teachers and researchers from across the university will be able to take advantage of the synergy developed when collaboration happens. This will help us solve the bigger problems in cybersecurity and show a university-centric focus on the study of cybersecurity problems and their solutions.”
Dampier said the new institute is designed to tap into a new mix of students and early-career professionals, and connect those learners with top cybersecurity talent in the region.
Marshall Interim Provost Avinandan “Avi” Mukherjee said as society’s need for cybersecurity professionals continues to grow — across multiple fields and industries — this new institute will help Marshall pool and maximize its offerings for students and make sure that each student gets the best educational experience to achieve his or her career goals.
“We see cybersecurity as a multidisciplinary field, drawing on Marshall’s strengths in engineering, computing, information security, cyber forensics, business, entrepreneurship, governance and national security,” Mukherjee said. “In the post-COVID world, digital networks and assets are more valuable than ever. The need for more cybersecurity support and services around the world is a huge opportunity to create experiential education and job opportunities for our students.”
Mukherjee said the new institute is a collaboration of Marshall’s colleges of computer science and College of Science, with support from its College of Business and others at Marshall.
“If managed well, cybersecurity could be an enabler of capturing and extending value in the digital economy,” he said.
“The creation of the ICS is really the right move to both leverage all of the resources here at Marshall and to help address the critical cybersecurity problems modern society is confronting today,” said John Sammons, chairman of the Department of Forensic Sciences and director of the cyber forensics and security graduate program at Marshall.
Chuck Somerville, dean of the College of Science, said it’s been exciting to watch as the College of Science and the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences have worked closely together on the design and rollout of the institute.
“Hopefully this work provides a blueprint for other inter-departmental and inter-college efforts to follow,” Somerville said.
Gilbert also announced a developing partnership with West Virginia State University to create a virtual cyber project, or center, between the two institutions to look at industrial cybersecurity. He also mentioned the institute will develop additional partnerships with Mountwest Community and Technical College and others to expand cybersecurity and research in the region.
“We believe we are better when we all work together,” he said.
Other speakers at the event included Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Congresswoman Carol Miller, R-W.Va.; and a representative from Sen. Joe Manchin’s, D-W.Va., office.
“The new institute means Marshall University can play a critical role in helping preserve the safety of our nation for years to come,” Capito said. “Under Dr. Gilbert’s leadership, there is great work happening at Marshall, and today’s announcement is validation of that. It also signals that West Virginia can continue to diversify our economy, prepare our workforce, and attract new and unique businesses to the state. It was a pleasure to support this important project and to be at today’s launch to see the hard work of so many come to fruition here at Marshall.”