Engineering Researchers Form Partnership Focused on Cybersecurity

The National Center for Reliable Electrical Power Transmission at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park.
Photo by University Relations

The National Center for Reliable Electrical Power Transmission at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Engineering researchers at the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission, based at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, are partnering with the Forge Institute and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to advance applied research in areas that support national defense, including cybersecurity.

The partnership will lead to competitive research and collaboration opportunities that will create economic growth and jobs in Arkansas.

The researchers will focus on next-generation cybersecurity defense capabilities for industrial control systems that protect critical infrastructure. The joint team will leverage the testing capabilities of the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission, or NCREPT, the highest powered power-electronics test facility at any U.S. university, with the cybersecurity reinforcing learning objectives of UALR’s Cyber Gym and the experienced team and professional capabilities of the Forge Institute.

“We at NCREPT look forward to this exciting collaboration with the Forge Institute and UALR researchers,” said Chris Farnell, NCREPT managing director and test engineer in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Fayetteville campus. “Our advanced applied cybersecurity project will strengthen infrastructure and national security. 

Farnell will work with Philip Huff, Cyber Gym director of research and assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at UALR; and Lee Watson, chair and CEO of the Forge Institute, to lead the project.

“We are excited to partner with the U of A and UALR to develop innovative solutions that will help address our nation’s complex and growing cyber and national security challenges,” Watson said. “By connecting to and building upon the existing cyber and defense sector in the state, we are establishing a foundation to drive innovation that will directly lead to high-paying jobs for Arkansans. I’m excited about this collaboration and how it will better position our state and country to defend against advanced cyber adversaries and grow the state’s economy.”

The University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock are designated as academic centers of excellence by the National Security Agency and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The U of A is also a U.S. Department of Energy center of academic excellence.

About Forge Institute: Forge Institute provides a number of workforce development courses and other offerings that empower our partners with cutting-edge technologies and capabilities to advance cyber operational objectives and enhance our national security posture. For more information, visit the Forge Institute at

About the University of Arkansas at Little Rock: The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is a metropolitan research university that provides an accessible, quality education through flexible learning and unparalleled internship opportunities. At UA Little Rock, we prepare our almost 9,000 students to be innovators and responsible leaders in their fields. Committed to its metropolitan research university mission, UA Little Rock is a driving force in Little Rock’s thriving cultural community and a major component of the city and state’s growing profile as a regional leader in research, technology transfer, economic development, and job creation.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 3% of colleges and universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Shannon Davis, research associate
Department of Electrical Engineering

Matt McGowan, science and research communications officer
University Relations


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