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WVU researchers to utilize $1.75M in federal funding for innovative cybersecurity AI program

Black computer keyboard in foreground with a lab and wires in background

WVU researchers are utilizing a $1.75 million funding package for a new lab and courses to help prepare students for critical infrastructure cybersecurity in AI technology (WVU Photo/Savanna Leech).

With $1.75 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a team of West Virginia University researchers will collaborate with teams at Marshall and Florida International University to address cybersecurity needs in AI technologies.

Story by Kaley LaQuea, Communications Specialist
Photos by Savanna Leech, Graphic Designer


The funding will support the development of new cutting-edge courses and a critical infrastructure security lab at the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering that will launch in fall 2025, focusing on intelligent systems and protecting critical infrastructure.

"We're grateful to DARPA for supporting this educational and research work for cybersecurity analysis of AI,” said Anurag Srivastava, professor and LCSEE chair. “We are excited for this partnership and committed to developing new courses and a hands-on lab centered on cybersecurity for intelligent cyber-physical infrastructure, encompassing areas like secure robotics and power grid security, while leveraging research in resilient AI to enrich course offerings."

The program will fund the design and implementation of a cybersecurity for AI graduate curricula that will include engaging open-source learning modules, establishing a strong foundation for students in understanding attacks and defenses for cyber operations. 

"The research and new curricula will greatly benefit the WVU community and beyond by equipping students with advanced knowledge and practical skills in cybersecurity, fostering an ecosystem of well-prepared professionals ready to tackle emerging cyber threats," explained Prashnna Gyawali, assistant professor. “It’s an exciting opportunity that allows for the creation of cutting-edge educational and research initiatives in the vital areas of AI and cybersecurity to establish WVU as a leader in securing cyber-physical systems and nurturing a skilled workforce for the future."

Students will have a wide range of hands-on opportunities in labs and training platforms, designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in a rapidly evolving cybersecurity industry.

Researchers will experiment with being able to detect cybersecurity incidents and how to complete certain tasks during a hypothetical breach. Examples of research projects will include: context-aware coordinated multi-agent reasoning for safe robot operations, and enhancing resilience in cyber-physical systems through robust, physics-inspired and explainable AI. AI cybersecurity research will also focus on developing robust defense mechanisms against adversarial attacks, data poisoning, and model manipulation, as well as establishing secure data practices, access controls, and continuous monitoring against various attack vectors including data poisoning, model inversion, and bias exploitation.

"While AI is pushing the boundaries of almost every aspect of critical infrastructure, we should keep an eye on potential cyber attacks and assess AI's security and trustworthiness,” said Amr El-Wakeel, assistant professor. “At WVU and beyond, you can imagine the criticality of infrastructure operation around campus, like the PRT or campus service vehicles. Bringing up the capabilities and functions of such systems would heavily involve AI, but this should not come at the price of the system's safety and security. Thanks to the DARPA funding, the AI CRAFT project will be focusing on research and training on AI safety and explainability in diverse systems.”

El-Wakeel, Gyawali and Srivastava will work alongside Teaching Associate Professors Mohamed Hefeida, Jignesh Solanki and Research Associate Dave Krovich. Professor Donald Adjeroh will support the project in his LCSEE leadership role.

The AI-CRAFT project will enhance research and successfully prepare students for the careers of tomorrow in ensuring safe and secure AI systems for our public infrastructure. Students interested in the program can reach out to faculty working on this project. find more information by contacting LCSEE department leadership.



Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

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Phone: 304-293-4135