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State Awards Nearly $1.5M for Cyber Range and Security Operation Center at Union Station

SPRINGFIELD — U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, celebrated the recent announcement by the Baker-Polito administration and the MassCyberCenter at the MassTech Collaborative regarding a new initiative to promote the development of a diverse cybersecurity workforce and improve local cyber resiliency in the Commonwealth that will bring $1,462,995 to Springfield.

This funding will allow Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) to establish a security operation center, or SOC, at Springfield Union Station that will provide threat monitoring and other cybersecurity services for Commonwealth municipalities and small business/nonprofit customers. The funds will also establish a cyber range, a new testing lab to mirror real-world IT environments to provide hands-on training opportunities available to local companies, universities, and other cyber-focused organizations.

Neal was joined on Monday at Springfield Union Station by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, Springfield Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Amanda Pham, STCC President John Cook, CyberTrust Massachusetts CEO Pete Sherlock, MassCyberCenter Director Stephanie Helm, and local leaders to celebrate the award.

“Springfield Union Station is a world-class transportation hub that will now be home to a world-class cybersecurity-training and security-management center,” Neal said. “The Baker-Polito administration has worked hand in hand with the city of Springfield, the STCC team, and my office to make this a reality.”

Sarno added that “this $1.5 million investment to STCC for this transformative and dynamic Cybersecurity Center of Excellence at our historic Union Station will support the state’s workforce-development objectives around cybersecurity with promoting diversity and supporting that good four-letter word, jobs.”

The facility will be overseen by a steering committee of public, private, and academic stakeholders, which will include the Springfield Redevelopment Authority (SRA), which owns Union Station.

“Union Station is uniquely positioned to accommodate the Cyber Center as it serves as the region’s intermodal transportation center at the crossroads of New England providing rail and bus service to our area’s diverse population,” Phan said. “We thank the Baker-Polito administration and MassCyberCenter for the award and designation as a Cybersecurity Center of Excellence and congratulate STCC on this milestone. These funds, coupled with the city of Springfield’s commitment of $500,000, will allow for the advancement of design and construction of this transformative center.”

STCC is the lead entity developing both a cyber range and SOC within the Union Station complex, serving Western Mass. and beyond. STCC will staff and operate the facility in partnership with a consortia of area higher-education institutions (Bay Path University, UMass Amherst, Western New England University, Elms College, and Springfield College), each of which bring a range of undergraduate certificate and degree programs in IT/security, cybersecurity, computer science and programming, digital forensics, and criminal justice. Another facility will be based at Bridgewater State University.

The grant to STCC will cover renovation and construction of the Union Station space, which is estimated to open during the first half of 2024, based on the initial timeline provided. The proposed facility will include a classroom and a conference room for up to 60 people, able to accommodate cyber-related events and to serve as a space for collaboration, in addition to separate classroom space, workstations for use by academic partners, offices for facility staff, a tech-support area, a kitchen, and storage.

As part of a site-based service arrangement, STCC will provide administrative oversight for the facility, including all HR for employees and hiring of key personnel, plus the establishment of electronic-systems management.

“This first-of-its-kind collaboration among business, higher ed, and government through CyberTrust Massachusetts could transform our cyber education and training, growing our workforce and creating new opportunities statewide, while helping to make our communities more cyber resilient,” Sherlock said.

Cook said the award will be “transformative for our region and higher education. As one of the most pervasive liabilities for our businesses and communities, these funds ensure a regional center that will be a nexus for the cyber workforce with hands-on learning, in addition to establishing a resource for protecting our community partners against cybersecurity threats.”

Helm sees these initial investments as critical for building out a plan for a “cyber-resilient Massachusetts,” adding that “the key word is ‘resilient,’ as no organization is successful 100% of the time when it comes to defending against cyber attacks. With the new monitoring capabilities, organizations can increase awareness, detect intrusions faster, and respond more quickly to an incident.”

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