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Springfield Tech CC Offers Details on New Cybersecurity Center

A facility under construction at Springfield Technical Community College, newly named the Richard E. Neal Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, will have a cyber range for the region's university students.

Media and officials stand outside at an on-site tour of Springfield Technical Community College
Springfield Technical Community College President John Cook, Congressman Richard Neal and Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno with others hold a tour and dedication of the still-under-construction Richard E. Neal Cybersecurity Center of Excellence at Union Station on March 26, 2024.
Don Treeger/The Republican/TNS
(TNS) — Recent headlines reinforce the need for the newly named Richard E. Neal Cybersecurity Center of Excellence: how a cyber attack hobbled the payment system widely used in health care, concerns over election integrity and hackers who target older adults.

“If you talk about a growth industry,” U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal, D- Springfield, said Tuesday during a tour of the $5 million center now under construction within the city’s rail hub Union Station. “Springfield Technical Community College is so well positioned on this very issue.”

Neal visited the cybersecurity center Tuesday as STCC announced it was naming it after him. The facility is set to open in June or July.

Neal reminded the crowd not only of the health billing cyber attack and reports about election threats.

“People have to have faith in the election system,” he said.

And people have concerns about the security of their bank accounts.

“Never mind major industrial plants,” Neal said.

Funded with $3 million in congressional earmarks, $1.46 million from the state and $500,000 in pandemic recovery money from the city, the 6,000-square-foot facility will have offices and classrooms where students will gather not only from Springfield Technical Community College but from Bay Path University, Elms College, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Western New England University, Springfield College and American International College.

There will be two 24-student classrooms, said Gene Kingsley, cyber range manager. A cyber range, a group of computers linked to each other, provides practice the way a firing range provides training and practice with firearms.

There are about 400 students in various cybersecurity programs at Springfield-area colleges and universities. That doesn’t count UMass Amherst.

There will also be a security operations center where students will work battling cyber threats on behalf of clients for a semester or as a summer job.

“Hands-on experience with real-world problems,” said Peter Sherlock, president and CEO of CyberTrust Massachusetts. “This experience will put students in a special category with employers.”

The state is also building out a similar facility at Bridgewater State University. It’s already open in a temporary space.

Sherlock is already recruiting school districts and town and city governments as initial clients.

Springfield Technical Community College President John B. Cook said this center is STCC’s first foray off its State Street campus.

Neal said the center will increase foot traffic in the station. Neal spearheaded the decades-long effort to rehab once-derelict Union Station with $103 million in state, local and federal money.

With the cyber range, all of Union Station’s main concourse is rented.

Armando Feliciano, chairman of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority that owns the station, said he’s especially gratified that STCC and others are working to be inclusive. Jobs in this industry can pay from $70,000 to $160,000 a year.

“We need people in our communities, Latino communities and women, to have access to those jobs,” he said.

©2024 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.