KU’s Institute for Information Sciences Houses New Virtual Institute to Combat Cyberthreats

The University of Kansas Institute for Information Sciences (I2S) is host to a new virtual institute geared to educate current and future leaders in the military and civilian sectors to combat the growing risks of cyberattacks. Part of the institute’s mission will include measures to protect the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS).

The institute, known as the Virtual Institute for Cyber and Electromagnetic Spectrum Research and Employ (VICEROY), is led by Fengjun Li, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the KU School of Engineering and a faculty researcher at I2S. The VICEROY program at KU, referred to as the Midwest VICEROY Institute (MVI), is one of three virtual institutes in the country. According to Li, the complexity and diversity of modern digital communications systems, such as 5G and 6G networks, as well as AI and electronic warfare systems, present significant challenges to protecting networks from cyberattacks. “This program seeks to address the national cybersecurity workforce shortage,” Li says, “We aim to train future leaders in cybersecurity and cyber operations.”

Funding for MVI, which runs through I2S, comes in the form of a two-year, $1.5 million grant from the Department of Defense. The mission of I2S, which receives ongoing support from the University of Kansas, is to sustain and grow national leadership in the creation, dissemination, and commercialization of new technologies in computer systems, communication systems, and radar systems. The mission outlined in the VICEROY virtual institute dovetails with I2S’ other Centers, which include Communications, Networking and Photonics, Cyber-Social Dynamics; High Assurance and Secure Systems; Mathematical Methods & Interdisciplinary Computing; Radar Systems; and Computer Systems.

Launched in the fall of 2023, MVI offers an augmented curriculum in four critical areas that enhances existing education in cyber and EMS operations through hands-on training, research-oriented experiential learning and several scholarships. Those four programs include:

  • Cybersecurity theories and practices
  • Cyber and EMS operations
  • Data science in cyber and EMS applications
  • Strategic foreign language proficiency

The virtual institute also offers special education and training programs for developing and training cyber talent and qualified cyber instructors in summer programs, workshops and seminars. “We recruited the first cohort in Spring 2024 and offered two activities in the form of two certification preparation courses and a cyber operations training module,” says Li, “and we are recruiting a second cohort for Summer 2024 activities.”

Students can find more information about the MVI program, including instructions on how to apply, on the I2S website at https://i2s-research.ku.edu/viceroy. Scholarships are available for those who meet the eligibility requirements.