GRAND RAPIDS – A new cyber range went live this week in Grand Rapids, yet another hub for the Michigan Cyber Range managed by Merit Network.

The hub is located at the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology and co-sponsored by the Michigan Defense Center, a branch of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. 

“WMCAT is excited to host our region’s first, community-based cyber security hub,” said Daniel Williams, president and CEO of WMCAT. “This will be a place where the cyber security sector can advance their skills, test products, and network. It will also be a place where community members can explore the cyber security field, sharpen their skills and prepare for new careers with opportunity for growth. We are proud to contribute to diversifying and growing the talent pipeline here in West Michigan.”

Cyber Range Hubs establish Michigan as the national epicenter for security training and workforce development, hosting events, exercises and training classes. Statewide hubs operate as a physical extension of the Michigan Cyber Range, the nation’s largest unclassified cyber range. The hubs offer more than forty industry-recognized certifications, exercises and workshops aimed at qualifying individuals for positions and contracts in cybersecurity fields.

“In Governor Snyder’s Protect & Grow initiative, the Michigan Defense Center is executing against one of the key objectives, which is to lead the nation in Department of Defense/State Cyber Operations Integration,” said Sean Carlson, Executive Director of the Michigan Defense Center.

“The State of Michigan is without a doubt one of the leaders nationwide when it comes to integrating both the state and federal government in cyber operations. The opening of this sixth cyber range in Grand Rapids is just another example of Michigan leadership and dedication to making cybersecurity a priority.”

The expansion of the Michigan Cyber Range, powered by Merit, is a critical strategy included in the 2015 Michigan Cyber Initiative, spearheaded by Governor Snyder. As a state-run test program that hones security software and cyber defense skills, the Michigan Cyber Range offers cyber exercises, product testing, digital forensics, and more than 40 professional certifications based on the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) framework.

“The Cyber Range Hub at WMCAT gives its students and the community access to world class, hands-on cybersecurity education,” said Dr. Joe Adams, Merit’s Vice President for Research and Cyber Security. “Cyber Range Hubs serve as a magnet site for the cybersecurity ecosystem. This partnership is a great opportunity for Merit, Michigan, and WMCAT and I’m sure it will have an immediate positive impact on these students and the area’s workforce.”

Since 2015, the Michigan Defense Center/MEDC has provided funding for cyber ranges in Battle Creek, Macomb Oakland University Incubator in Sterling Heights, Pinckney Community High School, Wayne  State University and at the Detroit Arsenal with U.S. Army TARDEC. An expansion project is underway to bring new hubs to additional regions throughout Michigan. These Hubs serve as centers for the cyber ecosystem within their communities.