Minister for the Cabinet Office meets cyber security experts at Imperial | Imperial News

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Ellis QC MP, in the control room of the Carbon Capture plant

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Ellis QC MP, met Imperial academics and students to discuss cybersecurity and resilience.

Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, the Rt Hon Michael Ellis QC MP, was co-hosted by Professor Chris Hankin, Fellow of the Institute for Security Science and Technology (ISST) and Professor of Computing Science, and Professor Philippa GardnerProfessor of Theoretical Computer Science from the Department of Computing.

Minister Ellis spoke to leading experts in the fields of cybersecurity and computing, including Professor Hankin and Professor Gardner, as well as Professor Washington Ochieng, Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Senior Security Science Fellow at ISST, and Professor Mary Ryan, Interim Vice-Provost (Research and Enterprise).

The group explored the College’s work in cyber security and computing, and how their research helps government and industry alike to understand and address the challenges of safety and security. They also discussed a skills gap in the field of cybersecurity, and the need to build more capacity in training the next generation of experts.

Professor Gardner is also Director of the Research Initiative on Safe and Secure Software Systems at Imperial-X – a new way for academia, industry and government to collaborate deeply, with an emphasis on AI, throwing out the rule book for how Imperial interacts with industry and government bodies.

Training the next generation

The Minister met students on the ISST’s Security and Resilience MSc programme, as well as the Programme Manager of the Research Institute in Trustworthy Inter-connected Cyber-Physical Systems (RITICS), Furrah Hussain.

The students – Sonakshi Kashkari, Vincent Bardenheier, Jack Powell and Dag Birkeland – recently reached the semi-finals of cyber security crisis management exercise, the Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge. The challenge hopes to inspire the next generation of cyber security leaders – something that the students raised with the Minister as a key area, alongside investment in cyber security, collaboration with industry and resilience planning.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Ellis QC MP, with a group of students

The Institute for Security Science and Technology (ISST) addresses security and resilience challenges in the physical environment, in cyber space, and at their interface. It is one of the College’s Global Challenge Institutes, created to address some of the most important issues facing the world today, from health inequalities and the dangers of global warming to the opportunities created by big data and molecular engineering.

The Minister also met a group of PhD students from the Department of Computing – Shubham Jain, Ana-Maria Cretu, Daniel Perez Hernandez and Lewis Gudgeon.

Visualising data

During the visit, Minister Ellis also saw the ABB Control Room of the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant. At the centre of the Department of Chemical Engineering, the plant provides a fully hands-on discovery experience for students and researchers. It is also a vital resource in the fight against climate change, demonstrating best practice in capturing and storing harmful carbon dioxide before it can be released into the atmosphere.

The state-of-the-art control room facility allows students to measure critical variables in the plant such as pressure, temperature, flow rate and pH. 

The Minister also visited the Data Science Institute’s Data Observatory. The largest of its kind in Europe, the Data Observatory provides an opportunity for academics and industry to visualise data in a way that uncovers new insights and promotes the communication of complex data sets and analysis in an immersive and multi-dimensional environment. 

  • Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Ellis QC MP, in the Data Observatory

    Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Ellis QC MP, in the Data Observatory

  • Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Ellis QC MP, in the Data Observatory

    Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Ellis QC MP, in the Data Observatory

“Innovative work”

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Michael Ellis QC MP, said: “I was delighted to be able to visit Imperial College London, one of the UK’s, indeed, one of the world’s best universities, to speak to some of our top cyber security minds and students and see first-hand their innovative work across cyber, resilience and computing.

“In the UK, we are undertaking some of the most advanced cyber security research in the world and are investing in skills and innovation to educate the next generation of cyber leaders.

“Through our National Cyber Strategy, our new UK College for National Security, and the work of the National Cyber Security Centre, the UK is stepping up its resilience planning and making sure we are protected from a range of threats in a rapidly evolving world.”

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