North American networks and devices come under attack billions of times each year. In the nuclear industry alone,
the National Nuclear Security Administration estimates that more than 10 million cyber attacks occur in the United
States each day. United States Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, recently stated, “The potential for the next
Pearl Harbor could very well be a cyber-attack. The capability to paralyze this country is here now…and there is a high risk.
” Certain assets of the United States’ critical infrastructure are particularly attractive to potential cyber saboteurs,
including components of utility networks and energy and institutional facilities. This reality presents significant challenges to utilities
and stakeholders since consumers are dependent upon reliable electricity, water, gas infrastructures, and information technology (IT) services.
The RCES Center was formed to address the cyber and energy security challenges facing diverse utilities,
energy systems, and information and communications infrastructures in the region; including grid tied forms of alternative energy generation
(e.g. solar and wind). Our mission is to develop innovative technologies, security strategies, and deployment solutions while raising cyber security
awareness throughout the Paso Del Norte region and beyond.
Key components of this mission include development of innovative processes, testing and certification methods, education and training, and products and services.
These components ensure secure deployment in the generation, distribution, operations, and customer domains.
The RCES Center will begin providing these services to reduce cyber- attacks,
cyber- physical attacks, equipment failures, and internal and natural threats.
The RCES Center is funded by the City of El Paso’s Planning and Economic Development division, and works with its partners to deploy and implement cyber and energy security solutions for stakeholders.
Unique Location and Environment
The RCES Center was established at UTEP, which has been classified by the Carnegie
Foundation as a high research university (RU/H). UTEP annually conducts over $70M of research in a broad range of disciplines, including engineering, energy,
health and biological sciences, business administration, education, and liberal arts. UTEP has six research centers that contribute to baseline technologies
and knowledge foundation required to be an industry leader in cyber and energy security solutions:
• Center for Information Assurance
• Cyber-ShARE Center of Excellence
• Regional Geospatial Service Center (RGSC)
• Research Institute for Manufacturing and Engineering Systems (RIMES)
The city of El Paso is located in West Texas, sharing a border with neighboring Juarez, Mexico, forming
the largest contiguous bi-national metropolitan area in North America. El Paso is the sixth largest city
in Texas and among the twenty largest cities in the United States. The Paso del Norte region is also home
to Fort Bliss Army Military Installation, White Sands Missile Range, and Holloman Air Force Base; all of
which have undertaken net zero energy and/or solar photovoltaic projects.