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Cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, and entrepreneurship have been given a major boost at North Carolina A&T State University.

With the launch of new Centers of Excellence, the leading research institution in Greensboro, North Carolina aims to produce new tools and knowledge for academic programs, and community outreach, consistent with the university’s land-grant mission, a  statement said.

The manufacturing industry is particularly vulnerable to cyber risks, given its increasing reliance on connected products,  a new paper from Deloitte notes.

Last October, NC A&T held a groundbreaking ceremony for an Engineering Research and Innovation Complex.

“Leveraging a rich tradition of academic and research excellence, we cultivate and inspire our engineers and computer scientists to design and build technical innovations that solve the complex challenges of today to create better tomorrows,” NC A&T said.

The new interim center directors include  Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson, professor and chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. She will serve as interim director of the Center of Excellence in Cybersecurity.

Over her career, Dr. Smith-Jackson has published more than 160 peer-reviewed publications and has attracted $16.4 million in external research funding.

Recently, she completed an assignment as program director at the National Science Foundation in the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate.  Her current research focuses on cyber-human systems, fairness, and equity in intelligent systems, cognitive ergonomics, and mixed data modeling to design systems that advance inclusion and equity in sociotechnical systems and cyber-ecosystems.

Ajit D. Kelkar, a professor, and chair of the Department of Nanoengineering in the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering will serve as interim director of the Center of Excellence in Advanced Manufacturing.

Kelkar has worked with several laboratories, including the NASA-Langley Research Center,  Office of Naval Research,  and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

He is also the recipient of numerous awards including the Intellectual Property Award at A&T, and the BEYA STEM Innovation Award.

Thaddeus McEwen, a professor in the Department of Management in the College of Business and Economics, will serve as interim director of the Center of Excellence in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Under his leadership, the entrepreneurship program has grown from one course, educating 12 students per year, to the current program that includes an entrepreneurship concentration for management majors, as well as a certificate and a minor in entrepreneurship, available to all majors on campus.

He is a former vice president of the Women and Minority Entrepreneurship Division of the United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. His research publications include papers on environmental and STEM entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship teaching and learning.

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