Researchers in Lehigh's Integrated Networks for Electricity research cluster are part of a new center that aims to develop new technologies to protect the nation's power grid from cyber attacks.

The center is made possible by a $12.2 million grant to Lehigh and four other universities from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The award will be supplemented with $3.3 million in matching funds from the participating schools. The center is led by the University of Arkansas, and consists of experts in power systems engineering and in the computer science of cybersecurity from Arkansas, Lehigh, Carnegie Mellon University, and Florida International University. The Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. will serve as an industry partner.

Lehigh faculty members represent the largest number of investigators involved in the project, which brings $3.25 million in research funding to Lehigh over 5 years. The group includes Rick S. Blum, the Robert W. Wieseman Research Professor of Electrical Engineering; Liang Cheng, associate professor of computer science and engineering; Mooi Choo Chuah, professor of computer science and engineering; Boris Defourny, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering; Shalinee Kishore, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Alberto Lamadrid, assistant professor of economics in the College of Business and Economics; Wenxin Liu, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; Larry Snyder, associate professor of industrial and systems engineering; and Parv Venkitasubramaniam, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

"Cybersecurity for energy systems is universally recognized to be one of the most important challenges of the future," says Blum, principal investigator of the Lehigh team.

The University of Arkansas-led team was one of two chosen by the Department of Energy. The other team, led by the University of Illinois, includes the University of California-Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Washington State University.  

"Cybersecurity is one of the most serious challenges facing grid modernization, which is why maintaining a robust, ever-growing pipeline of cutting-edge technologies is essential to helping the energy sector continue adapting to the evolving landscape," said Patricia Hoffman, Assistant Secretary for DOE's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, in the DOE's news release about these awards. "To meet this challenge, we must continue investing in innovative, next-generation technologies that can be transitioned to the energy sector to reduce the risk of a power disruption resulting from a cyber incident." 

Read the full story on the Lehigh News Center.