By Peter Murphy
Published September 26, 2022
A National Science Foundation-funded project led by faculty members in the University at Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will provide critical training on Cyber-Infrastructure technologies for the next generation of research in the advanced manufacturing workforce.
Wenyao Xu, professor and associate department chair in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, is principal investigator of the $500,000 project that will utilize Cyber-Infrastructure (CI)-enabled cybersecurity tools and knowledge to address the emerging needs in Industry 4.0.
“This new training program holds the potential to lead to transformative changes in the state of advanced manufacturing research workforce for advanced cyberinfrastructure-centered research ecosystems,” Xu says.
This project addresses the cyber infrastructure needs in Industry 4.0, or cyber-manufacturing: a revolution in advanced manufacturing introducing disruptive technologies such as the Internet of Things and edge/cloud computing into the typical manufacturing factory. While Industry 4.0 has driven greater efficiency, productivity and reliability, the advantages have created new risks, specifically around security, according to Xu. The digital tools associated with Industry 4.0 enable remote and connected production tracking and control at any place and platform by connecting the once isolated operational technology – the use of hardware and software to monitor and control physical processes, devices and infrastructure – in factories to the rest of the manufacturing company through IT networks.
“This unprecedented complexity in Industry 4.0 makes every aspect, such as employees, partners, electronic devices, machinery or finished products, a potential cyber risk,” Xu says. “The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency lists over 1200 known operational technology system-related security issues, vulnerabilities and exploits from more than 300 small and medium-sized enterprises and system providers.”
The new summer program will train the research workforce – undergraduate and graduate students – in the advanced manufacturing field on how to utilize CI-enabled cybersecurity tools and knowledge to address these emerging needs in Industry 4.0. The training will go beyond fundamentals in cybersecurity and will build student expertise in all essential areas of advanced manufacturing, according to Xu.
“A basic understanding of cybersecurity in general CI is far from enough for the advanced manufacturing research workforce to use in real-world defenses,” Xu says. “CI cybersecurity training must cover the entire spectrum in advanced manufacturing ecosystems: advanced manufacturing hardware, including industrial controllers and powerlines, advanced manufacturing software like PLC firmware, CAD/CAM, advanced manufacturing communication networks and other crucial CI components like quality control tools and IP protection.”
The first cohort will enter the program in May or June 2023. Any U.S. student is eligible to apply.
The training program is jointly hosted by the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, the Center of Excellence in Information Systems Assurance Research and Education, Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies (SMART) and the Center for Industrial Effectiveness at the University at Buffalo. External and industrial partners include Buffalo Manufacturing Works and IBM.
In addition to Xu, researchers on this project from the University at Buffalo include co-principal investigators Shambhu Upadhyaya, professor in computer science and engineering and strategic lead, cybersecurity research and education in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Chi Zhou, associate professor and Hongyue Sun, assistant professor, both in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Ken English, deputy director of SMART, is senior personnel on the project.