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Symposium a hit with researchers and students alike

April 22, 2024

The event featured nearly 260 attendees, 58 student posters, and 35 paper presentations.

Find downloadable photos from the 2024 Symposium on Flickr. Please credit CCI if you use them on social media.

The Commonwealth Cyber Initiative Symposium brought together a record 257 cybersecurity researchers, students, and experts from across the state to advance research, innovation, and workforce development in Virginia.

“Virginia universities are a force to be reckoned with when they unite their cybersecurity expertise to create innovative solutions and produce a highly skilled workforce,” said Luiz DaSilva, CCI executive director. “Our annual symposium helps to facilitate those connections, which lead to big wins. CCI researchers have brought in $192 million in funding from federal and private-sector sources in four years, resulting in tremendous job creation and a strong return on investment from the commonwealth.” 

The CCI Symposium was held April 15-16 in Richmond, Va. Researchers and students from universities in all regions of the commonwealth – Central, Coastal, Northern, and Southwest – attended the third annual event.

During the student poster session, keynote speaker Cheri Pascoe, director of the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. Department of Commerce, noted the breadth of work being done by CCI researchers and partners.

“I think it’s the focus on collaboration and working across industry, academia, and government that’s critical to address cybersecurity challenges,” said Pascoe, adding that she likes CCI’s focus on innovation and workforce development. 

The symposium also featured a securing the supply chain workshop, 35 paper presentations, and an awards ceremony. There were two panel discussions—one about moving research from lab to market and another that addressed new artificial intelligence policies in Virginia. 

“I thank CCI for having me be part of such an amazing panel about new AI policies,” said Oki Mek, chief information security officer of Microsoft’s Federal Civilian Sector. “I think the key to approaching AI is through collaboration, communication, and partnership. Microsoft would like to partner with CCI in the future.”

CCI Impact Award winner

Old Dominion University's Sachin Shetty won the 2024 CCI Impact Award. Shetty is the executive director for the Center for Secure and Intelligent Critical Systems at the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center and a professor in ODU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Best Poster Award

One of the symposium’s most popular events, the student poster session, had 58 posters. Anna Schmedding, a Ph.D. student from William & Mary, took home the 2024 Best Poster Award for outstanding visual representation of innovation and research for her poster "Transient Faults in Autonomous Vehicle Neural Networks: Resilience Evaluation and Mitigation."

Student Impact 

Northern Virginia Community College student Lulya Ogbaghiorghis participated in the CCI-funded Cyber Pre-Apprenticeship Program and plans to pursue a cybersecurity degree when she attends George Mason University in the fall. The symposium helped her understand how all-encompassing the cybersecurity field is.

“The symposium was super helpful and eye-opening,” Ogbaghiorghis said. “I was able to connect with like-minded people and learn about their experience in cybersecurity. It's given me a good idea of what to expect when I transfer to Mason. I highly recommend it!”