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Iowa State Cybersecurity Center to Focus on DERs, Microgrids

A project led by Iowa State University and funded in part by a DOE grant will create a cybersecurity center focused on protecting power grids that are connected to distributed energy resources and microgrids.   

The Center for Cybersecurity and Resiliency of DERs and Microgrids-integrated Distribution Systems (CyDERMS) will be based at Iowa State and will focus on both cybersecurity and workforce training needs. 

Researchers at CyDERMS will protect power grids containing wind and solar farms and microgrids by developing robust computer algorithms and other tools to detect and mitigate cyberattacks and system faults in real time. The researchers will use artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to help detect grid problems and malicious activities. 

The center’s second objective is to strengthen the grid industry’s cybersecurity workforce by developing curricular modules, capstone design projects, cyber-defense competitions, and hands-on workshops for industry and utility employees, including in rural areas. 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has selected CyDERMS for a two-year, $2.5 million grant. Project partners will also contribute $1 million in cost-share funding, including equipment and labor costs. 

“This investment in university-based cybersecurity centers will enable us to simultaneously grow the U.S. cyber workforce and build the expertise we need to take on the evolving cyber threats to our nation’s energy systems,” said Puesh M. Kumar, director of the DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response. 

The center’s project team will include researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Michigan Technological University, GE Vernova, Argonne National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. 

The DOE recently announced $15 million in grants to establish six university-based centers to address a region’s unique cybersecurity and workforce training needs. The lead campuses for the other centers will be in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas. 

Learn more here. 

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