PVAMU Secures Federal Grant to Expand Cybersecurity Research

PRAIRIE VIEW, Texas (October 16, 2019) – Students and faculty interested in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and computer forensics now have enhanced learning opportunities at Prairie View A&M University, due to a new grant from the Department of Defense (DoD). Shumon Alam, Ph.D., research scientist and principal investigator (PI) of the project, says the $432,854 award would go towards research and teaching in cybersecurity at the SECURE Cybersecurity Center and the Center of Excellence for Communication Systems Technology Research (CECSTR).

“With this grant, we can purchase major equipment that will be beneficial for our major research and our teaching,” Alam said.

The award is the result of a merit competition administered by the Army Research Office under the policy and guidance of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)). The Army Research Office is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory.

The cybersecurity testing equipment would come from Spirent Communications, which is headquartered in the United Kingdom.

“We have cybersecurity courses in the computer science and electrical engineering programs. So, this system will be an added benefit for our students,” Alam said.

Co-PIs Suxia Cui, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Sarhan Musa, Ph.D., Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, would incorporate Spirent’s CyberFlood application into the student learning experience. Also, the team would work with faculty from other departments to show them how pervasive cybersecurity is in the workforce.

“We will show them that with the Spirent’s testing system, training modules can be infused into existing cybersecurity-related courses.  They can use this system and do hands-on training for students,” Alam added.

The research team would target community colleges through campus seminars and training as a way to attract students into the field of cybersecurity.

“That would motivate those students to come to Prairie View and do a four-year program in cybersecurity,” Alam said. “The students will be doing everything hands-on. They can take these lessons to their jobs.”

The researchers hope their efforts during this one-year grant will motivate more students to not just learn about cybersecurity but choose a major in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) field.

“Cybersecurity is a multidisciplinary field,” Alam said. “So, anyone dealing with data can benefit from this.”

Students, faculty, and staff members can email Alam for more information about participating in the research.

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By Michael Douglas