INL, San Antonio university ink cybersecurity deal



Idaho National Laboratory and the University of Texas at San Antonio recently inked a deal for some of the university’s students and faculty to collaborate with INL in its cybersecurity work.

“They’re pretty well-known in their area for control systems cybersecurity, which is truly a need for us and it’s a growing need for us,” said Amy Lientz, INL’s director of partnerships. “They are very interested in working with the national lab.”

Many of the details of the three-year partnership still need to be worked out, Lientz said. UTSA said in a news release the deal will “facilitate collaborative academic and research programs in cyber and critical infrastructure protection” and will include increased internship and post-doctoral opportunities for its students. It also will feature joint appointments of cyber-focused researchers, letting university faculty and INL staff conduct collaborative research with personnel at both locations. Their joint research, UTSA said, will “advance a broad range of innovative solutions that will have a transformational and sustainable impact on the reliability and resilience of the grid and energy infrastructure.”

“The vast and deep expertise we have here at UTSA in cybersecurity combined with the reputation of Idaho National Lab will allow us to tackle some of our nation’s most intractable critical infrastructure cybersecurity challenges,” UTSA President Taylor Eighmy said in a statement. “We look forward to growing this strategic partnership.”

UTSA highlighted the credentials of both facilities, praising INL’s cybersecurity work and saying UTSA is “widely recognized as the nation’s academic leader in cybersecurity for its range and depth of cyber research and cyber degree programs.” San Antonio, UTSA said, is the largest cyber hub in the country outside of Washington, D.C.

“These solutions will be realized through partnerships to deploy innovative technologies, implement enhanced engineering and operational processes, and develop a highly skilled and well-informed workforce,” said Zach Tudor, INL’s associate laboratory director for National and Homeland Security.

INL has formed numerous similar university partnerships in the past, Lientz said. In 2017, INL hosted nearly 700 people from institutions across the U.S. and the world.

INL has been involved in cybersecurity work since Battelle Energy Alliance took over operation of INL in 2005. Much of their focus, Lientz said, is on control system cybersecurity, a major part of which is helping to secure critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

“It just seems, as you can see nationally, there is a lot of attention in cybersecurity,” she said.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.