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A home for innovators

Newly renovated building on the west side of campus will house the Innovation and Cyber Security Center

The right space, equipment and mentorship can make all the difference for student success. Entrepreneurialminded and computer science students now have just the place to perfect their skills and hone their inventions.

The new Innovation and Cyber Security Center is a playground for budding entrepreneurs and — following the relocation and expansion — a hub for students and faculty working to make the internet a safer place.

“The ambience will definitely be a little bit different,” said Tom Benton, director of the Innovation Center. “In Piñon Hall we primarily had concrete floors and concrete-block walls. The new space is wood-finished with much-higher ceilings and it also has about 1,200 additional square feet. It’s much larger and more open than what we’ve had.”

Tom Benton, innovation center director, standing in the newly renovated building.

Tom Benton is the director of the Innovation Center.


Part of that additional space is dedicated to new cyber security offerings. In the center’s lower level, students can train to become Certified Ethical Hackers. Ethical hackers are skilled professionals who know how to look for weaknesses and vulnerabilities in target systems, and use the same knowledge and tools as a malicious hacker but in a lawful manner to assess the security posture of a target system.

The Cyber Security Center became a reality thanks in part to a $300,000 grant from Colorado’s Office of Information Technology. In addition to cultivating and enhancing cyber security expertise, the new facility is expected to be a valuable asset to recruit bright and creative new students to CMU, particularly those in the business, science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The Innovation Center is a place where thinkers, researchers and doers come together to bring interesting ideas to fruition, step-by-step, with the help of faculty mentors and industry leaders.

At the new location, students will have access to more state-of-the-art equipment, including two additional 3D printers, computer numerical control machines, a laser cutter and a few more drills.

“No question about it,” Benton said. “It’s nice to have a place on campus where you can use advanced software programs, a 3D printer or the kind of workbenches you need to put something together.”

A portion of the facility is also available to support additional technology-minded businesses as tenants, and an incubator space for student-owned businesses. The center is located in economic improvement zones — Hub Zone, Enterprise Zone and Opportunity Zone — each classification provides a number of economic and tax incentives.

The center opened this past January.


Written by Dennis Taylor