Cybersecurity earns space grant alongside industry partners

In collaboration with the prime recipient of Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation, UCCS recently won an two-year grant to develop and improve cybersecurity in the space field as part of the Resilient Space Infrastructures, Systems, and Economy (RISE) team.

RISE consists of nine local partners, including UCCS, from private, public and nonprofit areas bringing diverse and unique capabilities to benefit the space ecosystem in Southern Colorado. The team has three principal aims centered around the space industry: Technological Innovation, Commercialization Acceleration and Community, Policy and Workforce Development.

“Each of these pillars will have its own set of activities, goals and deliverables during this two-year development award,” explained Aaron Ressler, Office of the Provost Advanced Industries Partnership Liaison. “For example, the Technological Innovation pillar will act as the research and development arm of RISE. Some development activities will include workshops that will aim to leverage nationwide expertise to further develop specific goals of that pillar. With a RISE leadership team consisting of representatives from each pillar, development activities will be synchronized to create clear pathways in the development of a type-2 strategic plan.”

The Technological Innovation pillar is led by Shouhuai Xu, Gallogly Endowed Engineering Chair in Cybersecurity and lead of the UCCS portion of the team. Xu is working alongside Dawn Conley, Senior Executive Director of Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation and Principal Investigator on the grant, along with Subject Matter Expert Kiti Hall, Grants Manager of Cybersecurity Programs at UCCS, and Gretchen Bliss, Director of Cybersecurity Programs, and the Cybersecurity Programs Office to ensure higher academia would be part of the development phase for Colorado Springs. Xu will collaborate with the partners and stakeholders on accomplishing what is envisioned in the proposal, including a technical roadmap towards achieving Resilient Space Infrastructures, Systems and Economy to make Colorado Springs a hub of space technology and economy.

“We hope to see the establishment of a robust ecosystem for space technology and economy,” said Xu. “Making Colorado Springs a hub in this field will contribute enormously to the local economy, the state of Colorado and the nation in this domain.”

This grant not only benefits UCCS and RISE through direct investment, but opens the door for larger grants and more opportunities. Over the next two years, the RISE team will develop goals and timelines to measure progress and if those are met the team can apply for a 10-year, $160 million grant.

“Colorado Springs has a long history as a leader in space operations on a national and global scale, and the combined capabilities of the partners and resources will enable business growth and the development of cutting-edge technologies. Our community has rallied together, and this NSF grant will enhance the pathway for a cohesive and productive space economy,” said Conley.

UCCS is a sub-awardee of the grant and will receive about $180,000 of the $941,375 total. The other RISE partners and sub-awardees include:

“We appreciate the opportunity of leading a team of partners and stakeholders to explore how space technology, including cybersecurity and resilience, could make a huge contribution to space economy in the region and in the nation,” Xu said.

About RISE

The RISE development award aims to build the foundation for a dual-use innovation engine for Resilient Space Infrastructures, Systems, and Economy. This will fuel the United States to become the world leader in the emerging space economy and cybersecurity sector while building international alliances to spread its leadership, value, and impact. The dual-use nature will directly create new businesses, services, and industries; support a diverse workforce; and enhance national security by collaborating with our federal agency partners through technology transfers and new services. Learn more about RISE online.

About Cybersecurity at UCCS

UCCS is a recognized cybersecurity education leader in the region, awarding hundreds of degrees each year in cybersecurity fields at bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. UCCS cybersecurity programs train security professionals who work to ensure the nation’s security, support faculty research and strategic cybersecurity partnerships with industry, government, military and academic institutions, including the U.S. Space Force and the National Cybersecurity Center.  Due to generous Colorado state funding of cybersecurity education, UCCS students are eligible for significant financial aid towards security degree scholarships. Learn more about Cybersecurity Programs at UCCS.