N.C. A&T Researchers Awarded $9M DOD Grant for Cybersecurity, AI

By Jordan Howse / 10/12/2022

EAST GREENSBORO, N.C. (Oct. 12, 2022) - The United States Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Naval Research (ONR) has awarded North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University researchers $9 million to investigate how to create trustworthy, reconfigurable and secure artificial intelligence for cyber physical defense systems and diversify the artificial intelligence (AI) and cybersecurity workforce.

Kaushik Roy, Ph.D., interim chair of the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering (COE), will lead the research as principal investigator (PI) for the multi-thrust project over five years.

“We use AI and machine learning every day to make our lives easier,” Roy said. “It is especially important to analyze and mitigate risks that can affect AI and detect anomalies that could attack – in combat and in everyday life. This research will improve the AI and cybersecurity capabilities of the DOD and N.C. A&T.”

The first thrust, led by Roy, will include developing algorithms and artificial intelligence that can understand threats, mitigate risks, process data quickly and defend against virtual attacks. The second thrust, led by co-PI Sun Yi of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, will focus on human-inspired and “human on the loop” Al algorithms for networked autonomous robots through systematic decision-making processes. The third thrust, led by co-PI Daniel Limbrick of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will ensure the reliability and security of microelectronic hardware and software developed in the first two thrusts.

Roy has established a multidisciplinary research project, working with five of the university’s colleges, eight departments, 13 professors and two centers – Center for Cyber Defense and the Center of Excellence in Product Design and Advanced Manufacturing.

He will work with A&T faculty members Jingsheng Xu, Ph.D., and Albert Esterline, Ph.D., Computer Science; Christopher Doss, Ph.D., and John Kelly, Ph.D., Electrical and Computer Engineering; Salil Desai, Ph.D., and Younho Seong, Ph.D., Industrial and Systems Engineering; Carla Coates, Ph.D., Criminal Justice; Belinda Shipps, Ph.D., Business Information Systems and Analytics; Stephanie Teixeira-Poit, Ph.D., Sociology and Social Work; Seongtae Kim, Ph.D., Math; and Geleana D. Alston, Ph.D., Leadership Studies and Adult Education.

This research will include the development of a physical test bed that will allow researchers to better collaborate on the various areas of research and will support four postdoctoral, 16 doctoral students, eight master’s students and eight undergraduate students each year.

In addition to the scientific thrusts, researchers will include an educational component to create new cybersecurity courses that will increase the number of underrepresented minorities, especially women, in cybersecurity and AI research.

“We are excited that Kaushik is leading this important work for the Department of Defense and College of Engineering,” said Stephanie Luster-Teasley, Ph.D. COE interim dean. “Not only will it help secure our country’s cyber defense systems, but also increase the diversity of thought in the AI space. This generous grant will ensure hands-on research and training for our students to become leaders in the cybersecurity community.”

Media Contact Information: jmhowse@ncat.edu

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