Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Aims to Make Aircraft Production Process More Secure

Glenys Young

November 23, 2020

The university is part of the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a public-private partnership to secure and sustain the nation’s leadership in global manufacturing competitiveness.

As part of the newly launched Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute (CyManII), Texas Tech University will work to make advanced aircraft manufacturing processes less vulnerable to cyberattacks.

CyManII is a $111 million public-private partnership led by the University of Texas at San Antonio. Under the terms of a five-year corporative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy, a consortium of 59 proposed member institutions will work to secure and sustain the nation's leadership in global manufacturing competitiveness by supporting American manufacturers' and supply chains' efforts to adopt more secure, energy-efficient approaches.


"Texas Tech University is very pleased to be a managing partner in the Department of Energy (DOE-funded) CyManII consortium," said Joseph A. Heppert, vice president of research and innovation. "The creativity of our researchers in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, and, in particular, the research themes developed by Whitacre Chair Professor Rattikorn Hewett from the Texas Tech Department of Computer Science, has resulted in our leadership role in the early work of the consortium. The university is extremely proud of Dr. Hewett and her co-workers."

U.S. manufacturers are one of the top targets for cyber criminals and nation-state adversaries, impacting the production of energy technologies such as electric vehicles, solar panels and wind turbines. Integration across the supply chain network and an increased use of automation applied in manufacturing processes can make industrial infrastructures vulnerable to cyberattacks. To protect American manufacturing jobs and workers, CyManII will transform U.S. advanced manufacturing and make manufacturers more energy efficient, resilient and globally competitive against our nation's adversaries.


As part of its national strategy, CyManII will focus on three high priority areas where collaborative research and development can help U.S. manufacturers: securing automation, securing the supply chain network and building a national program for education and workforce development.

To that end, Texas Tech's project, "Intelligent Visual Analytics for Energy Aware Security of Advanced Manufacturing," will address security issues within the automated manufacturing of advanced aircraft. As of now, many aircraft components – including the fuselage, tail assembly, wings, landing gear, engine and flight control systems – are produced on an assembly line, then tested to verify that they meet safety requirements. Eventually, aircraft manufacturers will move to a fully integrated, automated assembly line, which is potentially vulnerable to even simple cyberattacks, if it's not well protected.

Through CyManII, Texas Tech researchers will develop a security framework that provides mechanisms for preventing, detecting and coping with cyberattacks by recommending strategic energy-efficient operations – for instance, prioritizing activities during an attack. The proposed framework can be applied not only to pre-existing manufacturing systems but also incorporated into the design of future systems and different manufacturing domains.

Assembly line

"I am excited for Texas Tech to be a part of this important institute landmark," Hewett said. "We will holistically address the issues of cybersecurity, energy and manufacturing systems using expertise in multidisciplinary fields to combat the challenges both in theory and practices. Dean Al Sacco has been instrumental in bringing all three engineering departments together. Without his vision and determination, this project would not have existed. I look forward to working with my colleagues across the fields within and outside Texas Tech."