Purdue University

    The World’s First AI-Powered, Virtual Reality-Based Cybersecurity Training for First Responders is Being Developed

    March 24, 2021

    WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.: Researchers from Purdue University and a team from the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) are creating the world’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered virtual reality-based cybersecurity training program for public safety officials. The joint three-year project began in September 2020 after receiving a $1.5M Homeland Security National Training Program (HSNTP)/Continuing Training Grant (CTG from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

    Cyber Resilience Adaptive Virtual Reality Experiences (CRAVRE)   is a virtual reality-based training program designed to help public safety officials prepare for the growing threat of cyberattacks, especially those relating to disasters.  Mesut Akdere is the principal investigator of the CRAVRE Project and a Professor of Human Resource Development in the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation at Purdue University. Dr. Akdere is also the director of the Purdue HRD Virtual Lab .

    Unlike existing training programs, this program utilizes virtual reality for a highly engaging user experience. “We’ve seen great results with VR-based training,” said Akdere. “Interactive and immersive training scenarios in VR are much more true to life, which enhances learning and memory.”

    “Internet of Things (IoT) technologies have increased vulnerabilities of cyberattacks during disasters,” said Umit Karabiyik, Assistant Professor of Cybersecurity at Purdue. “This training helps officials respond faster and recover more quickly when it happens.” 

    Incorporating artificial intelligence brings a level of customization not yet offered by traditional training programs. “Powering this training with AI offers each learner a unique experience tailored to their particular needs,” said Jin Kocsis, Assistant Professor of AI in the Department of Computer and Information Technology at Purdue.

    The project plans to begin offering the training in early 2022. “This initiative will provide an engaging learning opportunity for thousands of public safety officials across the nation,” said Jason Moats, Director of the TEEX Testing and Innovation Center. “We need more projects like this in development.”

    Dr. Akdere is also a part of the Center for the Environment’s Building Sustainable Community research area.  This initiative aligns with the Center’s interest in building sustainable and resilient communities. As Center Director and professor in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and Agronomy Tim Filley said, “This project provides for the development of an important tool for teams working in resilience in light of challenges that environmental catastrophes can have on communities.”

    For more information, please visit the project website (https://polytechnic.purdue.edu/cravre)

    About Purdue

    Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at purdue.edu.

    About TEEX

    The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) is an internationally recognized leader in the delivery of emergency response, homeland security and workforce training, exercises, technical assistance, and economic development. A member of The Texas A&M University System, TEEX served more than 178,000 people from across the United States and 133 countries last year through hands-on training and technical services.

    Writer: Julie Abdinoor

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