Virginia Tech has announced the appointment of two top researchers to serve in interim leadership roles for two key university initiatives.

Eric Paterson, the Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor and head of the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering in the College of Engineering, has been named interim executive director of the Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology.

Jeffrey H. Reed, the Willis G. Worcester Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering and founding director of Wireless@VT, will step in to serve as interim executive director of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative.

These appointments are effective immediately.

Established in 2010 through an endowment from Ted and Karyn Hume, the Hume Center plays a key role in the university’s education and research ecosystem for national security technologies, with an emphasis on resilient communications, cyber defense and security, space situational awareness, and autonomous mission platforms in the defense and intelligence communities. The university-level center is located both in Blacksburg and Arlington.

The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI), launched with an initial state investment of $25 million in the 2018-20 Virginia budget, calls on higher education institutions and industry to build an ecosystem of cyber-related research, education, and engagement. The goal is to position Virginia as a leader where cybersecurity meets data analytics, machine learning, and autonomous systems. The state intends to further invest in CCI in subsequent years.

CCI provides for cyber-physical system security research and technology commercialization, as well as cybersecurity workforce development through a primary “hub” in Northern Virginia and a network of regional “node” sites across the state.

In their new roles, Paterson and Reed will work out of both Arlington and Blacksburg.

These two appointments follow the announcement that Charles Clancy, the Bradley Professor of Cybersecurity in the College of Engineering; the executive director of the Hume Center; and interim director of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, will step down after eight years of leadership at Virginia Tech to become vice president for intelligence programs at The MITRE Corporation, where he will lead the organization's technical strategy and delivery on research and engineering to the intelligence community.

“We’re grateful for Charles’ many contributions and proud of the exciting opportunity he has earned to oversee such an impressive operation as a result of his great work at Virginia Tech,” said Theresa Mayer, vice president for research and innovation. “I’m also pleased that Eric and Jeff have stepped forward into these interim roles. As department head, Eric has demonstrated exceptional leadership and operational management talent in his seven years at Virginia Tech. Jeff, a leading researcher and entrepreneur in wireless communications, will work with CCI partners and stakeholders to position Virginia as a world leader in cyber research, innovation, and workforce development.”

Paterson has nearly 30 years of experience at Harris Corporation, the University of Iowa, Penn State, and Virginia Tech, including many years as a research faculty. While at Penn State, he held a dual-title appointment as chief scientist of computational mechanics at the Applied Research Laboratory, a Navy university-affiliated research center, and professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering. Throughout his career, his research has engaged the broader defense and intelligence communities. His current research is being conducted in collaboration with faculty in the Hume Center, and as department head, he has placed faculty into leadership positions that have expanded the scope of Hume Center research.

During Paterson’s tenure as head of the Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, the faculty’s research portfolio doubled from $6 million to $12 million, and he secured the department’s $15 million naming gift from alumnus Kevin T. Crofton.

Widely recognized for his work on wireless innovation, Reed’s expertise is often sought out by industry leaders and the highest levels of the federal government. He has experience with the process of commercializing new technologies, a critical component of CCI’s mission.

Reed has a track record of entrepreneurship that demonstrates his ability to navigate the complex nexus of evolving technology and security. Reed is the co-founder of a commercial venture called Cognitive Radio Technologies, a company that develops cognitive radio technologies produced at Virginia Tech for commercial and military applications. And, in collaboration with Clancy, Reed co-founded Federated Wireless in 2012. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, the company employs more than 80 people and is leading the implementation of spectrum sharing in the 3.5 GHz band.

In addition, Reed is currently engaged with the development of the CCI Hub, working on the Southwest Virginia node proposal, and is serving on the search committee for the executive director. He was a founding faculty member of the Hume Center and served as its interim director during its first year. 

An international search was launched in March to recruit CCI’s inaugural executive director. The search committee includes stakeholders from across the commonwealth. Isaacson Miller has been retained to support the recruitment.