Virginia Tech partners with government at research center
Oct 06, 2012 (Menafn - The Roanoke Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Virginia Tech and a U.S. defense contractor on Friday christened a joint research center in Northern Virginia designed to foster tighter national security.
Virginia Tech's Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology teamed up with L-3 Communications to create the National Security Solutions Center. It is located at the 14-month-old Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington, which hosted about 100 visitors for an open house Friday.
Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said the collaboration highlights Tech's advanced ability in computers and cybersecurity and its readiness to partner with industry. The L-3 relationship has spawned a major gift to the university and will provide graduate students a chance to work on real-life problems, officials said.
Opened last summer at a cost of about 80 million, the Arlington research facility housing the new cybersecurity center is the first significant research building Tech has constructed in the Northern Virginia-Washington area.
While Tech has done research in the area for decades, it now has a major facility located a 6-mile drive from Washington, and near many government contractors, high-tech companies and government and scientific organizations such as the National Science Foundation. Because of high-speed communications infrastructure, it has been dubbed one of the "most connected research facilities in the world" and is designed to place university technical resources close to current and potential research partners and sponsors for greater collaboration.
The relationship with L-3 is evidence of that vision taking shape, officials said.
L-3 is a New York-based defense firm with a cybersecurity division working for the Department of Defense and U.S. government intelligence agencies. The company, which had revenue of 15.2 billion in 2011, lined up Tech's assistance a year ago to develop new national security, military and government tools. L-3 gave an undisclosed philanthropic gift to Tech to underwrite the joint program, said Charles Clancy, an associate professor at Tech who directs the Hume center, which is tied to the college of engineering.
"Virginia Tech is doing some amazing work in the world of cybersecurity, and a partnership with a company such as L-3 will go a long way to get research from the lab into practice," said Michael Rudd, an L-3 spokesman, by email.
L-3's cybersecurity center -- whose opening became official Friday -- is on the sixth floor of Tech's Arlington research lab, while the Hume center occupies the fifth floor with about 15 faculty and graduate students. About 70 people are expected to work there in all.
Private sector researchers from L-3 collaborating with university experts is designed to cut the long lead time -- sometimes five to 10 years or more -- that is often needed to put laboratory technology into use, Clancy said.
"The threat facing our computer networks are such that we can't wait five to 10 years for the traditional academic process," Clancy said.
Clancy said the university's contribution to the partnership will be carried out both in Arlington and at the Blacksburg campus. L-3 will receive exclusive licensing rights to the products and services developed jointly by L-3 and Virginia Tech, L-3 said in a release.
Cybersecurity is concerned with the safety and control of information in computers and networks. Some of L-3's primary projects include secure text messaging. An ordinary text message, if intercepted, could be read, Clancy said. The cybersafe messages will prevent that through encoding.
Another project will harness huge amounts of data with visualization techniques to empower data analysts. That might take the form of a display of computer monitors covering a wall, Clancy said.
If another project comes out as expected, military commanders will see a computer representation of the physical battlefield enhanced with the status of communications and radio networks, Clancy said. The new display would capture the "cyber and kinetic battlefields in a 3-D geo-referenced environment," L-3 said in a news release.
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