Savannah River National Lab opens satellite lab at Georgia Cyber Center


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– The Savannah River National Laboratory is launching a satellite lab at the Georgia Cyber Center, and the center’s leaders hope this will help Augusta retain gifted cyber security students after graduation.

The lab will give students hands-on learning experiences through real-life simulations.

“We’re looking at what’s called the OT, operating technology, and how that works with the larger infrastructure,” SRNL Cyber Strategy Director Jon Dollan said. “We’ll be looking at the electric grid, power systems, water systems, factory, and how you have critical infrastructure vulnerabilities as it pertains to cyber and cyber attacks.”

In one exercise, students design factory equipment, speed it up, and slow it down. On another screen, they see the changes they’re making in real time.

“If they want to say, ‘Hey what if I changed this line of code, what would happen?’ If you were to have that in a real physical location, you could do damage to equipment, you could do damage to personnel,” Dollan said.

Dollan says they will focus on teaching students about US infrastructure and its electric grid.

“We’re looking at seeing how do you ensure greater resiliency of the systems, how are you ensuring a higher degree of detection and being proactive in that detection so you don’t lose the power one day, you know that would be bad,” Dollan said.

Dollan says Augusta is the perfect location for a research and innovation space like this.

“It makes all the sense in the world to have it focused here because the growth is going to continue and it’s a great opportunity and we need to be next to where all that takes place,” Dollan said.

He says Augusta’s growing cyber industry, medical community, Fort Gordon, and university are bringing in more people, and more students.

“There’s a whole bunch of students out there that we have an opportunity to work with and look through and identify the superstars,” Dollan said. “Hopefully from those superstars be able to pull them in and have them part of the SRNL team to keep them in the area and keep that expertise in the area.”

In two weeks, the lab’s leadership will meet to decide when the lab will officially launch.  It could happen as soon as the spring semester. 

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