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Saturday, July 31, 2021

UC Davis joins the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute to examine cybersecurity in supply chain management

Community members weigh in on this step toward a secure digital world

UC Davis has joined the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII) through a partnership started by the University of Texas at San Antonio, an institution that is known for securing automation and the supply chain network, and creating a national program for education and workforce development.

         Prasant Mohapatra, the vice chancellor for research at UC Davis, is directly involved in this partnership, especially with cybersecurity, smart energy efficiency and supply chain management.

         “We take pride in training our students and helping in building the pipeline for the workforce in the idealism of cybersecurity and energy efficiency,” Mohapatra said.

         UC Davis became involved with the institute after the Department of Energy sent out a call for proposals asking for groups to participate. Along with forming a partnership with the University of Texas at San Antonio, UC Davis also allied with three national laboratories. These laboratories included Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory.

         “CyManII is a one of a kind institute providing cybersecurity in our supply chain and manufacturing enterprises,” Mohapatra said.

         The institute is currently working with 24 universities and three national labs. This team will participate in many collaborations to share their expertise about cybersecurity and energy efficiency to secure U.S. manufacturing companies for years, according to Mohapatra.

With his role in the partnership being to look at cybersecurity in supply chain management, Mohapatra believes it is increasingly important to secure manufacturing processes because today they are mostly digital and therefore have more vulnerabilities. Cars being more like computers than mechanical devices is one example that illustrates how digital society has become. 

UC Davis has taken on the responsibility to search for aspects that combine hardware and software security. The vice chancellor of research has taken on the role of monitoring all the UC Davis locations, which consists of the Davis campus, Sacramento campus, Health System, satellite campus in Tahoe and the Bodega Marine Laboratory.

Maria Martinez, the ASUCD vice president of external affairs, says the driving factors for the university collaborating with CyManII is UC Davis’s commitment to environmental sustainability, which the partnership enhances, and their research of computer science meets the goals of the institution. The partnership will also bolster UC Davis’s credibility as a research institution.

“I think it is great to see that our university’s efforts are recognized by a national institute like this,” Martinez said. “Hopefully this opens the door to other types of partnerships that we can help out even if it is outside environmental sustainability and computer science.”

Many undergraduate environmental and policy planning majors are highly involved in the topic because of the environmental sustainability of energy efficiency, according to Martinez.

When asked about the importance of cybersecurity, Martinez took into consideration the state of our world during this pandemic and how everything is virtual today, especially with most conversations being over Zoom.

“Considering the model of the world we live in right now is so highly based on the internet, having that type of security is definitely important,” Martinez said.

 Martinez elaborated how this translates to U.S. manufacturing companies and how it is even more important for them since they are responsible for making huge decisions on a day-to-day basis that need protection and secure networks. Although Martinez does not have a direct role with the partnership, she is glad it was brought to the university’s attention and hopes that ASUCD can be a part of it in the future.

Many students at UC Davis are unaware of this great collaboration. Kory Lopez, a fourth-year political science major, was thrilled when she heard the news.

“I think it is important that a university in the UC system is going to be a part of an initiative that is going to help protect companies with cybersecurity,” Lopez said. “It’s been an important issue, especially in the U.S. since so many things are in computer systems.”
Written by: Francheska Torres —science@theaggie.org


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