Norfolk State dedicates new multi-million dollar cybersecurity facility

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NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk State University dedicated its new, $4 million cybersecurity complex Monday afternoon at the Marie V. McDemmond Center for Applied Research.

The 6,000 square foot area, funded in part by the Department of Defense, includes research labs and data centers that provide training for 120 students in areas such as digital forensics, cloud computing, wireless security and intelligent intrusion detection systems.

The center will house the Center of Excellence for Cybersecurity.

Dr. Aurelia Williams, the complex’s director and chair of computer science programs, said the school’s goal is to develop tools and resources for students to advance in a field that needs new talent.

“The biggest issue we have with cybersecurity today is the very limited number of cybersecurity professionals to prevent those types of activities that are hacking our university systems or hacking national communication systems,” she said.

To get attract future cybersecurity professionals, Williams said the school is always working with primary and secondary schools.

“We need to educate younger children, at an early age, when they become engaged on the internet,” she said.

Governor Ralph Northam also agreed.

He spoke before a ribbon cutting ceremony and encouraged students from Ready Academy by telling them they could be whatever they want.

But Northam said it was important to get them interested in STEM now.

“These are the jobs of the 21st century, so if we can train our young individuals for these jobs, we can drive our economy,” he said.

The university said it started cybersecurity initiatives in 2003, and since 2010, has won 18 major cybersecurity grants and contracts totaling $42 million.

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