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November 16, 2017

Governor Baker to award UMass $5 million for cybersecurity and technology

Collegian File Photo

(Collegian File Photo)

The office of Governor Charlie Baker announced on August 17 that the commonwealth had chosen to award the University of Massachusetts with a $5 million grant to support a data science collaborative.

The purpose of this collaboration between UMass, the Baker-Polito Administration and the MassMutual Foundation is to advance cybersecurity in the Pioneer Valley region, according to a press release issued by the administration.

“In today’s rapidly evolving world, data science and cybersecurity are the fundamental building-blocks of emerging technologies and essential to pushing the boundaries of commercial products and innovation,” said Baker in the release.

The $5 million will mainly be for hardware support and advancements at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computer Center (MGHPCC) in Holyoke, a joint computing facility built 4 years ago for UMass, MIT, Harvard, Boston University and Northeastern. The money will also go toward funding the Trust, Assurance and Cybersecurity (TAC) Certificate Program at the UMass center in Springfield. UMass students can register for the program online.

“There’s a real demand for this in the workforce. Data scientists and this gift by MassMutual will help strengthen those fields,” said UMass Executive Director of Strategic Communications Ed Blaguszewski. “All sorts of institutions, whether they’re colleges, universities, healthcare organizations, the Democratic Party, they’re all under siege. We’re all under siege by cyber-attacks.”

The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative is directly responsible for the $5 million contribution. The donation comes in addition to MassMutual’s 10-year, $15 million grant to UMass for advances in data science and cybersecurity, announced this past June.

“Through innovation and talent, Massachusetts is quickly becoming a nationally recognized hub for big data and cybersecurity,” said Chairman, President and CEO of MassMutual, Roger Crandall in the release. “We are pleased that Governor Baker is committed to ensuring that the Commonwealth will continue to be at the forefront of these fundamentally critical areas.”

These investments made by the MassMutual Foundation in coordination with the Baker-Polito Administration come as cyber-attacks are targeting individuals and organizations across the country.

“Security is a big concern, absolutely,” said Blaguszewski.  “Everybody recognizes that, so we need to train computer scientists to work on the technical aspects and we need to have the work force generally trained in how to protect their data.”

With the grant money, the TAC can expect an increase in faculty and students and the MGHPCC will receive advanced computing equipment for use by UMass research groups.

In terms of the effect that this collaborative will have on UMass students, Blaguszewski said that it is “an important investment in their future, providing new career opportunities so that they can really prosper and pursue careers that can have a real impact on the commonwealth and the world.”

Stefan Geller can be reached at stefangeller@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @StefanGeller.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story falsely said the donation was courtesy of the Mass Mutual Foundation and a part of Mass Mutual’s 10-year $15 million grant. This has since been corrected.

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