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From left, STCC President John Cook, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, Springfield Redevelopment Authority Chair Armando Feliciano, and CyberTrust Massachusetts CEO Peter Sherlock.

SPRINGFIELD — At a construction project walk-through on March 26, regional leaders unveiled a name for the cybersecurity center at Union Station: the Richard E. Neal Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.

Announced by a group that included STCC President John Cook and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, the name honors Neal and his commitment to leading-edge cybersecurity education and the betterment of Union Station. Neal, who provided a tour of the center currently under construction, led a funding effort in 2023 that resulted in $3 million of congressionally directed spending to establish the center.

“This is a great honor, one that I am particularly proud of, knowing that this Cybersecurity Center for Excellence will have a profound impact on local students for years to come,” Neal said. “This project marks several noteworthy feats for our region. As one of just two cybersecurity centers in the state, this technological hub will invest in the brightest young minds in our region, giving them the resources needed to learn how to combat these threats, and shoring up the resiliency of our cybersecurity in Western Massachusetts.

“With the opening of the Cybersecurity Center for Excellence, we are also celebrating a historic milestone in this historic building: 100% occupancy of Union Station’s main concourse,” Neal went on. “Springfield Union Station has re-established the city of Springfield as the crossroads of New England, and it will soon serve as home to a state-of-the-art cybersecurity training center that will greatly benefit our region.”

The center also is supported by a $1.46 million state grant and $500,000 from the city of Springfield. It is one of two such centers to be established in the state. The other is situated at Bridgewater State University.

The Richard E. Neal Cybersecurity Center of Excellence in Springfield, scheduled to open later this year, will serve as a hub for advancing cybersecurity awareness, education, and innovation while battling global security threats. The 6,000-square-foot facility will include a cyber range, which is a simulated training environment, and a security operations center, which is envisioned as a support service for Massachusetts municipalities, as well as regional businesses, to detect cybersecurity events in real time and respond quickly.

“Once a mayor, always the heart of a mayor, Congressman Richard Neal continues to provide exemplary leadership on behalf of our city of Springfield and Union Station — the house that Neal built,” Sarno said.

The facility will serve as a regional center for Western Mass. and beyond, and is a collaboration between STCC, the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, and CyberTrust Massachusetts.

“Under the leadership of Congressman Neal, the collaboration of government, business, and higher-education leaders in Western Massachusetts has been critical to our statewide initiative to grow and diversify the cyber workforce and address the security needs of the region’s cities, towns, nonprofits, and businesses,” CyberTrust CEO Peter Sherlock said. “With its state-of-the-art cyber range, educational facilities, and security operations center, this cyber center of excellence is a world-class resource to serve the region’s people and institutions.”

Students who train at the the center will have access to paid internships in preparation for employment, where they would work with professionals to confront cybersecurity threats, a growing global problem. The cybersecurity industry needs more trained professionals to help prevent incursions and defeat security threats, and the new center will help fill the demand.

Cook continued to express his appreciation as well as enthusiasm, given the center’s alignment with STCC’s mission of accessible and dynamic education and workforce development.

“Congressman Neal has long been a supporter of STCC, of Springfield, and our regional needs,” he said. “We are grateful for his dedication to driving innovation and excellence in cybersecurity, and for leading the collaboration that is making this center a reality.”

The Richard E. Neal Cybersecurity Center of Excellence will offer a wide range of programs and resources, including but not limited to cutting-edge cyber range training, internships and industry partnerships that build experience and career networks, research opportunities that establish best practices combined with emerging technologies, and community outreach and education forums to raise awareness about cybersecurity risks and solutions.

The center will also work to ensure access for underrepresented communities into the industry, with a particular effort to draw women and students of color to the field. STCC’s programs, including degrees in cybersecurity, programming, and computer systems engineering, represent more than 200 students who could train at the CCE as part of their degree or certificate.