Cal Poly Announces $100,000 Grant from Silicon Valley Foundation to Help Fund Research and Training at California Cybersecurity Institute

SAN LUIS OBISPO — A $100,000 grant from the Silicon Valley Foundation will help Cal Poly’s California Cybersecurity Institute (CCI) protect critical infrastructures with multiple initiatives, beginning with a Nov. 4 hackathon focused on the “internet of things.”

The grant, received at the recommendation of Cisco Systems, Inc., through its Advanced Security Research Program, will help the CCI promote cybersecurity for both private and public infrastructure. Critical infrastructure, deemed vital to the United States’ economic well-being, health and security, includes sectors in financial services, government facilities, healthcare and agriculture, among others.

The grant will allow the CCI to perform research toward infrastructure protection in conjunction with private industry, academia and public entities, including policy makers.

“This grant is focused on synergizing these three pieces, so we can have actionable solutions to our cyber vulnerabilities on critical infrastructure,” said CCI Program Director Martin Minnich.

Information obtained from the research will be shared with others through conferences, webinars and direct communication with public and private sector decision makers, Minnich said.

CCI represents a multi-agency effort to protect California through enhanced cybercrime forensics and statewide tactical response training. The CCI consists of three buildings, including a forensics lab, a training and operations center and a digital range for cyber research and scenario-based training. An extension of Cal Poly’s experiential learning environment, the CCI also serves as an extended Learn by Doing space for Cal Poly students, where they can explore live immersion training with new cyber technologies while training and testing tactics alongside law enforcement professionals and cyber forensics experts.

The first initiative using the grant money will be a hackathon, to be held Nov. 3-4 at Camp Lan Luis Obispo. At the hackathon, Cal Poly students from the White Hat Club and IT professionals from the public and private sector will work together to discover new ways to identify, isolate and remediate critical vulnerabilities related to the internet of things, or any device that can connect to the internet. 

“Cal Poly students can walk away with Learn by Doing experiences that tie directly back to critical infrastructure,” Minnich said.

The event, sponsored by Cisco, is an example of a collaboration formed to address cybersecurity issues. While the grant helps CCI promote technical training, future grants will help it pursue policy solutions regarding cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity is especially important to California, which boasts the fifth largest economy in the world. As of 2016, the state led the nation in cybercrime loss, estimated at $255 million.

About CCI
A partnership between Cal Poly, California Office of Emergency Services, California Specialized Training Institute, and the California Military Department, the CCI aims to educate the next generation of the cyber workforce and provide faculty and students with a new, hands-on research and learning environment. It serves as an extended Learn by Doing space for Cal Poly students to explore new cyber technologies and train and test tactics side by side with law enforcement professionals and cyber forensics experts. Learn more at

About Cisco Research Center
Cisco Research Center (CRC) connects researchers and developers from Cisco, academia, governments, customers, and industry partners with the goal of facilitating collaboration and exploration of new and promising technologies. First and foremost, the CRC is interested in exploring issues, topics, and problems that are relevant to our core business of improving the Internet. The CRC is also deeply interested in adjacent technologies that leverage the power of the network to change the world around us.

Contact: Jimmy Baker
CCI Interim Director for Industry Outreach

October 31, 2018

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