NNSS UNR partnership

Security in cyberspace: Nevada National Security Site invests in partnership with University of Nevada, Reno

NNSS UNR partnership

The U.S. Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)’s Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) is proud to partner with the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Cybersecurity Center for new research and collaborative opportunities.

During the NNSS’ initial funding of $170,000, the UNR Cybersecurity Center will conduct vulnerability research assessments that support the NNSS’ digital infrastructure. NNSS Cyber Technology Program Director Mike Buglewicz, who has managed the NNSS’ Emergency Communications Network, came into contact with UNR following a presentation from UNR Cybersecurity Center Executive Director Dr. Shamik Sengupta’s students in 2019.

“The students did a presentation that blew me away,” said Buglewicz. “They were doing things that the NNSA and NNSS could use. We saw what they could do.”

The NNSS and UNR then established opportunities for those students to evaluate vulnerabilities in a software package the NNSS was considering.

“The UNR task team assessed vulnerabilities, and they turned out a top-notch report,” said Buglewicz. “We were so impressed with what they did that there are five more software packages with a task order that will be analyzed for the vulnerability network. They do terrific work. They do it much faster than we could and have a fresh set of eyes on it.”

The NNSS and UNR are now partnering for three proposals to the U.S. Special Operations Command and two proposals to the Site-Directed Research and Development Program. The mutually beneficial relationship gives undergraduate and graduate students hands-on exposure to cybersecurity career development while allowing the NNSS to collaborate with future industry leaders and introduce them to a career supporting the NNSS’ national security mission.

“We hire from these universities because we invest in their students,” said Buglewicz, who has served as the keynote speaker at UNR’s annual cybersecurity conference. “Once students understand as much as they can about our missions, it’s not a matter of will they want to come to work at the NNSS—it’s when. They believe in the mission that we’re part of, which is really powerful. Working with universities has huge benefits. It is our pleasure to offer students positions and an even greater pleasure when they accept.”