UMBC will play an exciting role in strengthening our nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure through a new Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC) announced this week. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) awarded a contract to operate the center to the MITRE Corporation, which will partner with the University System of Maryland (USM) to carry out the center’s goals. UMBC and the University of Maryland, College Park are collaborators with MITRE and Anupam Joshi, director of the UMBC Center for Cybersecurity, will serve in a leadership role for UMBC.

The government sponsors fewer than 50 FFRDCs across the country, and all are designed to tackle complex, long-term problems of significant national interest. According to NIST, this is the first center that is “solely dedicated to enhancing the security of the nation’s information systems.” The contract to operate the FFRDC has a maximum amount of $5 billion over 25 years.

“Securing our cyber infrastructure requires government, industry, and higher education to work closely together, and this center makes that powerful collaboration possible,” says UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski. “Further, it solidifies Maryland’s role as the hub of cybersecurity in our nation.”

Maryland hosts a large number of federal agencies and companies on the cutting edge of cybersecurity, and the USM is nationally recognized for its research and education programs in the field. This vital combination means that the State of Maryland is uniquely positioned to successfully nurture this research and development center.

U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski congratulated the USM and MITRE on this opportunity, saying, “This new center unites the knowledge of the government with the know-how of the private sector to develop cyber technology solutions needed to protect dot-com entities and make our cyber infrastructure more resilient.”

UMBC’s Anupam Joshi says, “While national security interests are usually central to the security conversation, this center will also work to meet the cybersecurity needs of individuals and businesses in a variety of sectors, such as healthcare and energy. Individuals and small and medium-size businesses constitute a major part of the nation’s cyberinfrastructure, but can lack the resources and technical expertise to respond effectively to cyber threats.”

This new FFRDC will support the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE), which NIST, the state of Maryland, and Montgomery County, Md., established in 2012 to help businesses secure their data and digital infrastructure by bringing together information security experts from industry, government, and academia. It will further the NCCoE’s goal to foster public-private collaborations to identify and solve today’s most pressing cybersecurity challenges.

“This new FFRDC supporting NIST’s NCCoE will be a major addition to Maryland’s existing strengths in cybersecurity,” says Karl Steiner, Vice President for Research at UMBC. “I am delighted about this new strategic collaboration with our colleagues at College Park and at MITRE, and about the opportunities to further expand and apply our scientific capabilities in an area of such critical importance.”

To learn more about this new collaboration, see the announcement from NIST and the joint announcement from MITRE and the USM.