News Release

Cybersecurity project plans to connect researchers across the country

Grant and Award Announcement

Texas A&M University

Dr. Narasimha Reddy

image: Dr. Narasimha Reddy view more 

Credit: Texas A&M University

From building fighter jets to automobiles, the manufacturing world is increasingly adapting digital instruction as technology advances. Mechanical parts can be designed on a computer and shipped over the network to a manufacturing machine that follows digital instructions to produce a specific part. The move into the digital world makes securing online information a national interest. 

Dr. Narasimha Reddy, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, recently received a National Science Foundation grant to research cybersecurity issues in digital manufacturing.

“The hope is that by getting ahead of the deployment of these digital manufacturing machines and finding solutions for the cybersecurity problems, we will make manufacturing more secure,” he said. “Since these machines need to receive instructions over the network, they can potentially be sent malicious packets to damage the machines. We’re looking at these issues related to the security of the machines.”

When a company produces parts for fighter jets using modern manufacturing processes, there is a risk that someone could break into the network and compromise their integrity. A national security issue arises if defective machinery ends up in these jets.

“An easier way to think about this is with 3D-manufactured automobile parts,” Reddy said. “Let's say when you go to the car manufacturer or dealership, you need a part such as an axle. They don’t hold the parts anymore in inventory, so they print it for you. This may especially be the case for old cars that are not around anymore. If those designs are compromised, you could potentially get into an accident in a car with a defective part. The idea is to prevent these designs and parts to be compromised.”

Reddy aims to make manufacturers aware of potential issues so they can implement safety practices before deploying digital manufacturing machines. The idea is to get ahead of the problem before it becomes too commonplace. A website will also be built to open the lines of communication between manufacturers and researchers.

“This grant is about trying to get the people from the cybersecurity side and people from the manufacturing side to talk to each other to create a community that's going to be interested in solving the problems,” Reddy said. “Not only are we working together on research problems, but we're also trying to bring people of similar interests together through workshops, conferences and student design competitions. The intent is to create several activities that spark interest in this space.”

Working alongside Reddy for this project is Dr. Satish Bukkapatnam, co-principal investigator and Texas A&M industrial engineering professor. The team also includes Dr. Ramesh Karri and Dr. Nikhil Gupta from New York University, Dr. Nektarios Tsoutsos from the University of Delaware, Dr. Sidi Berri from The City University of New York and Dr. Annamalai Annamalai from Prairie View A&M.

By Katie Satterlee, Texas A&M Engineering

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