Members of the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) met for a researcher workshop on Oct. 11 to network and learn about the research activities occurring at each of the universities in the network. CCI will leverage Virginia’s diverse and innovative universities, research excellence, the ecosystem of industry, and the density of cybersecurity talent.

“We want to combine the power of all the Virginia universities to pursue large-scale projects that use the infrastructure they may not normally have access to,” said Jeff Reed, interim executive director of CCI. “This is a chance for faculty and universities to cross boundaries within the state.”

CCI is a $20 million per year initiative to accelerate economic diversification in advanced cyber technologies in Virginia. The initiative is built on a network made up of a “hub” located at the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington, Virginia, and four regional nodes led by public universities. The initiative includes 39 institutions of higher education in Virginia.

The workshop was the first opportunity for researchers across the network to meet and discuss ideas for collaboration and partnership. Nearly 100 participants from more than 13 member institutions across the commonwealth discussed topics like 5G security, AI assurance, cyberphysical system security, and the internet of things. Researchers also had the opportunity to showcase their work in a poster session.

Members of the nodes had the chance to meet one another and learn about opportunities to collaborate. For Anton Riedl, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Christopher Newport University and chair of the Department of Physics, Computer Science, and Engineering, “being part of this is really big for us because we’ll have access to Ph.D. students.”

That access to graduate students and equipment for Christopher Newport, as for other small universities that cater primarily to undergraduate populations, will be vital as they “cannot invest in building such a large installation, like the CCI 5G security test bed, on our own,” continued Riedl, who has already invited researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University to visit his campus and meet with researchers.