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LETU Opens New Cyber Security Lab

During the summer of 2019, a lot of construction was going on in one of the metal buildings along Glaske Drive.  The university ripped out old walls and put in a 37-foot glass wall; made electrical upgrades including floor-mounted receptacles; upgraded flooring, carpet, and ceiling tiles, installed new dimmable LED smart lighting to create a new, 1,036-square-foot, high-tech cybersecurity lab for the LETU computer science department.  

Computer science is one of the largest majors on the LETU residential campus with almost 100 majors, according to LETU Dean of the College of Education, Arts and Sciences Dr. Larry Frazier.  “It’s a big department, and it didn’t have a space to grow.”

With 21 computer stations in a sleek, glassed-in lab, the space is a visually appealing and functional teaching space, made for the kinds of projects and programs that CS students and faculty need.  Each computer is top notch. 

“It’s like sitting down behind the wheel of a sports car,” Frazier said.  “And the high-powered computer equipment is the kind of quality that a prospective CS student would notice.”

Frazier said the lab was worth the investment for student recruitment and marketing value.

“The quality of our CS facilities need to match the top quality of our faculty and computer science program,” Frazier said. “This new lab allows us to grow and do things in class that the computer science students and faculty couldn’t do before.”

Dr. Glyn Gowing, associate professor of computer science who teaches cybersecurity and is chair of the global (online) computer science program, agrees.

“The students love it! They absolutely love it!” said Gowing, who is teaching two cybersecurity classes in the new lab this semester.  “They think the computers are cool, and they are excited to come here to work in it. It’s a great space.”

Gowing said the computers run faster and have more memory than regular lab computers.  He said he plans to bring in some virtual machines to have multiple operating systems running at the same time, so students can practice hacking and attacking those machines to learn “white hat” (ethical) hacking. 

“The two big screens at the front make things much more visible for students,” Gowing said. “The openness of the layout is good, and the computers are faster and more capable for the exercises that we will use with newer software. Another feature is the interactivity and how students can share their screens up on the front screens so everyone can see what’s happening.”

Gowing emphasized that cybersecurity classes are not the only beneficiaries of the new lab space.

 “The entire computer science department is benefitting from this lab,” he said. “It has use for computer graphics classes to give students exposure to leading edge equipment, and the civil engineering department is benefitting too, as civil engineers can do some of their simulations on these computers because they are powerful enough to do them quickly.” 

Gowing said students are starting an e-sports club in competitive computer gaming and may use that space for their e-sports competitions.

 “We have a game development major, so it makes sense that we would get into competition in that,” he said.  “The new lab gives us all sorts of things we couldn’t do in a regular classroom.”