Virtually every aspect of daily life from financial transactions to power grid operations depends on computer networks to safely and effectively function. With threats to those networks growing ever more sophisticated, St. Mary’s University engineering and computer science students soon will have a hands-on laboratory to help them better prepare to fight back.

St. Mary’s Department of Engineering has been awarded an $87,000 federal grant that will be used to develop a computer security laboratory to enhance teaching and research capabilities at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The lab will enable entire classes to work together on lab experiments as part of classroom instruction.

The grant is through the U.S. Department of Education’s Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program, which works to strengthen science and engineering programs at predominately minority institutions nationwide.

“This lab will allow St. Mary’s University to improve our computer security education in a way that will generate better research and more graduates who are prepared to find solutions to security problems,” said Wenbin Luo, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer engineering. “We will able to use hands-on learning experiences to enhance our teaching while attracting the most promising students to this critical and rapidly expanding field.”

Once complete, the laboratory will allow St. Mary’s to attract and retain undergraduate and graduate minority students and increase the number of exceptional minority students prepared to enter graduate school and high-tech industrial careers, while expanding research opportunities for minority students.

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