Davidson Dedicates Colorado Cyber Lab at Expanded UCCS Research Center
Updated: May 6, 2022
May 5, 2022 Colorado Springs, CO – Team Davidson Thursday was pleased to be present for the dedication of a cyber research lab bearing the Davidson name at the newly expanded University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS), Kevin W. O’Neil Cybersecurity Education and Research Center. UCCS is a recognized cybersecurity education leader in the Pikes Peak region, training cybersecurity professionals who work to ensure our Nation’s security.
The dedication of this expansion and research lab took place at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs campus Thursday. The morning’s events included a reception and ribbon cutting ceremony featuring; UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy; UCCS Partner, Space ISAC; Lead Funder, EDA and Chris Inglis, the first Senate-confirmed National Cyber Director and a Principal Cybersecurity Advisor to President Biden.
“We are exceptionally pleased to support the Davidson Technologies, Inc. (Davidson) Research Lab at the UCCS Kevin W. O’Neil Cybersecurity Education & Research Center. This will provide students and faculty with a high-quality facility to pursue leading-edge cyber security research,” says Davidson’s President, CEO & Chairman, MG John W. Holly (USA, Ret.).
The 26,000-square-foot center, located in a former satellite manufacturing plant on North Nevada Avenue, houses cyber labs, offices, conference rooms, classrooms and more.
The facility will house all cybersecurity classes starting this fall for the school's College of Engineering and Applied Science and eventually will house classes from other UCCS colleges.
"This is a remarkable day," said UCCS Chancellor, Dr. Venkat Reddy. "The UCCS Cybersecurity Facility has grown and transformed over the years to better serve our community. And today is a milestone. These expanded spaces will deepen our community’s investment in cybersecurity education, workforce development and industry growth. A transformation like this can only be powered by people; and I see so many faces here, without your support, this wouldn’t have happened,"
Reddy said in a speech before officials formally opened the center and a separate Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center where space industry officials will track cyberattacks on satellites and other space assets.
The renovation of the former plant into the center and equipment in the facility was funded by $7M in grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration; the El Pomar, Lane and Anschutz foundations and Colorado Springs developer, entrepreneur and Catalyst Campus Founder, Kevin O'Neil. Reddy said UCCS also has received another $19 million in recent grants to pay for cybersecurity apprenticeships, faculty development and camps for elementary, middle and high school students statewide.
The center is the third phase of five multiyear projects to turn the 135,000-square-foot plant into a hub that also houses a cybersecurity-focused think tank and business incubator and accelerator program. UCCS bought the vacant building from a local developer in 2006 at a heavily discounted price that included a donation that was used for an expo center and a warehouse for surplus equipment.
The state-funded $8 million in initial renovations to the building in 2016 as part of a vision by U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colorado, to turn the plant into a "National Cyber Intelligence Center."
About 60% of the building continues to be used for warehouse space. But the school plans to seek federal grants totaling up to $14M for the next two phases of renovation that would expand the center with more classrooms, labs and other space, said Martin Wood, UCCS Senior Vice Chancellor for University Advancement and Development. Depending on fundraising, that work could be completed in 5 - 7 years.
UCCS also plans to renovate another unfinished part of the building for expansion of the think tank, called the National Cybersecurity Center; the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center; and the Exponential Impact incubator and accelerator, Wood said The school also wants to lease some of that space to cybersecurity businesses that want to work with UCCS students and faculty on research projects. He estimates that renovation probably would cost more than $10M
Cybersecurity is a fast-growing area for UCCS, which has graduated 200 students with degrees related to cybersecurity and has another 250 students enrolled in 20 cyber-focused degree and certificate programs. Cybersecurity graduates shouldn't have much trouble finding work — more than 550,000 cybersecurity jobs remained unfilled, said Chris Inglis, the nation's first cyber director who also spoke at the opening.
"Why do we care about cyberspace?" Inglis asked. "It is much like why race cars have bigger brakes — so they can go faster. We have cyberspace so we can do the things we want on the digital infrastructure and be confident in doing it. Those who do this work should say, 'I defend business, democracy and our way of life.'"
The University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) is a recognized cybersecurity education leader in the region. The UCCS cybersecurity programs have trained security professionals that work to ensure our nation’s security. UCCS faculty has obtained federal cybersecurity research grants and shared their research results, developed techniques, systems, and tools with the broader cybersecurity community. UCCS has formed strategic cybersecurity partnerships across campus, with industry, government, military, academic institutions and the National Cybersecurity Center. These partnerships identified industry and government cybersecurity needs, internship and employment opportunities, collaborative research, hands-on activities, and programs to benefit the security and intelligence communities. The UCCS cybersecurity program has used these partnerships to pursue research, share information collected to increase and improve application implementation, define educational cybersecurity objectives, and provide cybersecurity and other security education.