Associate Dean part of new Center addressing cybersecurity and the energy sector

April 3, 2024

The University of Pittsburgh was awarded $2.2 million from the United States Department of Energy (DOE) this week to establish the Cyber Energy Center, a collaborative ecosystem for regional energy industries and stakeholders to help improve the cybersecurity of the region’s energy system. Pennsylvania is the lead producer of energy in the United States and exports more electricity than any other state in the country. Pitt is among six universities nationwide receiving DOE funds totaling $15 million for projects addressing energy security research and cybersecurity education programs in various regions.

“Cybersecurity is essential to the functioning of our society,” explained GSPIA Associate Dean and Center member Erica Owen. “Both the energy sector and federal government are concerned with how a cyber-incident could affect health, the environment, the climate, and the safety of the public. For the energy sector, it impacts not only their business, but public well-being.”

As a member of the Center, Owen will join colleagues from the Swanson School of Engineering, School of Computing and Information, Center for Energy, Energy GRID Institute, and Institute for Law Policy and Security to create a portfolio of expertise that includes artificial intelligence and machine learning, grid engineering, law and policy, and energy-efficient computing. The scope of the Center’s work will venture outside of Pennsylvania and reach 21 utilities in 13 states.  

In addition to conducting research developing the theory, methods, and tools used for cybersecurity, the Center will offer education and workforce development programs to current Pitt students, engage with local community colleges to push cybersecurity curriculum into their classrooms, and create training opportunities for entry-level skilled workforce in underserved communities to learn needed skills in cybersecurity.