UT Dallas Joins New USDOT National Cybersecurity Center To Help Protect Connected Vehicles, Drones, and More

TraCR—slated to receive $20 million from the DOT over five years—will use everything from adversarial machine learning to blockchain to help fight cyberattacks on our transportation system.

From new cars and autonomous vehicles on our roads to drones in our skies, America’s transportation system has become increasingly connected—and dangerously vulnerable to cyberattacks. Now UT Dallas is joining an effort to patch up those vulnerabilities through the newly formed National Center for Transportation Cybersecurity and Resiliency.

UTD is one of nine universities, led by Clemson University, that have been selected to participate in the new center, also known as TraCR.

TraCR—slated to receive $20 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation over five years—is just one of 39 University Transportation Centers researching ways to promote “the safe, efficient and environmentally sound movement of goods and people,” UTD noted.

Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham will lead UTD’s team

Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, Founders Chair in Engineering and Computer Science at UTD’s Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, says the university is looking forward to “developing solutions to the challenging problems in transportation systems security.”

“We’re pleased that Clemson University invited us to join their team,” Thuraisingham added in a statement.

The founder and senior strategist for UTD’s Cyber Security Research and Education Institute, Thuraisingham will serve as principal investigator at UTD and as one of the national center’s associate directors.

Collaborating on ‘adversarial machine learning’ and more

UT Dallas’ Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham (left) and Dr. Ovidiu Daescu [Photos: UTD]

UTD will be leading research on data privacy and cybersecurity risks as part of TraCR, and will collaborate with the other universities on projects including “adversarial machine learning, machine learning for cybersecurity, secure data management, and the applications of blockchain for transportation systems.”

UTD’s share of the $20 million in DOT funding was not disclosed. But the university said that as part of the DOT funding agreement, support for the TraCR effort “is also provided by UT Dallas, the Jonsson School, and the computer science department.”

Puts UT Dallas ‘on the national map’ for transportation cybersafety

Dr. Ovidiu Daescu, computer science department head and Jonsson School Chair at UTD, called the new award “the result of many years of hard work by a group of dedicated faculty at the core of the CSI” and said it “asserts UT Dallas on the national map as a leader in research and development for ensuring the cybersafety of the transportation systems of tomorrow.”

“I see TraCR as a first, yet critical, step in positioning UT Dallas among the universities at the forefront of a transportation systems revolution, powered by technologies that span across most engineering fields,” Daescu said in a statement. “I’m particularly proud of the achievements of Professor Thuraisingham, who for years has been the soul and driving force behind CSI.”

UTD’s co-principal investigators on the TraCR project are Dr. Alain Bensoussan, the Lars Magnus Ericsson Distinguished Chair, professor of operations management, and director of the International Center for Decision and Risk Analysis in the Naveen Jindal School of Management; Dr. Murat Kantarcioglu, Ashbel Smith Professor of computer science and a data privacy expert; and Dr. Latifur Khan, professor of computer science and an expert in integrating cybersecurity and machine learning.

The UTD team also includes Dr. Kevin Hamlen, the Louis Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor of computer science and CSI executive director, and Dr. Tyler Summers, associate professor of mechanical engineering and an expert in cyber-physical systems.

Other participating universities range from Purdue to UC Santa Cruz 

Besides Clemson, the other universities participating in the TraCR consortium include Benedict College in South Carolina, Florida International University, Morgan State University in Maryland, Purdue University, South Carolina State University, The University of Alabama and the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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