URI to lead national cyber-physical systems security workshop

The two-day event will take place at URI on Oct. 18-19

Media Contact: Neil Nachbar, 401-874-9519 |

KINGSTON, R.I. – September 18, 2019 – The security of the electrical grid will be the subject of a two-day workshop at the University of Rhode Island on Oct. 18-19.

Titled “Cyber-Physical Systems Security,” the event will feature local and national experts from academia, industry and government. URI has been at the forefront of research in this field.

“Professors and students in URI’s College of Engineering have been working on the critical challenges of smart grid security for many years, building our strengths and capabilities as one of the key figures in this critical area,” said Haibo He, URI Robert Haas endowed chair, engineering professor and co-chair of the workshop.

Day one of the workshop will focus on how advancements in science and technology are being used to mitigate threats. Day two will focus on building a workforce to meet the growing challenges in this field.

“Research has shown that the grid is quite vulnerable and it is of critical importance that this infrastructure is protected,” said URI Professor Yan Sun, who is co-chairing the event. “Some researchers have demonstrated that if key substations or power plants were targeted by cyber or physical attacks, it would cause significant blackouts or even knock down the entire U.S. grid.”

Sun referenced an attempt by hackers this year to scan for vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid, which was covered by WIRED in June 2019. It was believed that the same hackers were behind a potentially lethal cyber-attack on an oil refinery in 2017.

“Securing the grid is a complicated, multi-faceted challenge, which will require new fundamental research, technology development and adoption, student training, and workforce development,” said He.

Among the featured speakers are:

  • Mukund Ravipaty, director, Enterprise Security Architecture, National Grid
  • Michele Andersen, program manager, Office of Naval Research
  • Gwen Holdmann, director, Alaska Center for the Energy and Power
  • Chen-Ching Liu, director, Power and Energy Center, Virginia Tech
  • Erik Brine, executive director, National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technologies
  • Arun Shukla, co-director, National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technologies
  • Richard Christenson, co-director, National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technologies
  • Molly Donohue Magee, executive director, Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance (SENEDIA)/Maritime Cybersecurity Center/Undersea Technology Innovation Consortium
  • Dave Kring, senior vice president of Science and Technology, Navatek LLC
  • Anthony R. Shaw Jr., scientist, Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific (NIWC Pacific)

Additional speakers and panelists are listed in the full program.

The two-day event will be held in the Memorial Union Ballroom (50 Lower College Road) and the Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering (2 East Alumni Avenue) on the Kingston campus. The workshop is free to attend, but registration is required.