In the spring of 2018, construction began on DSU Madison Cyber Labs (MadLabs). On Sep 3, 2019, the administration team moved into the building, and on Oct 2, an open house was held celebrating the grand opening of MadLabs. MadLabs had planned to open before the arrival of the 2019 fall semester, but the federal grant money funding some of the technology in the building came through slowly, so the opening was delayed.
“This is the very first building on campus that is devoted to research,” said Josh Pauli, Vice President for Research, “but MadLabs is more than a building…the MadLabs initiative provides our faculty and students a research outlet that we haven’t had before.”
Pauli, a DSU grad in 2001 and DSU faculty member from 2004-2018, developed his own research agenda throughout his time at DSU leading him into his current position.
Pauli’s office, along with the offices of the 4 other research administration team members, is located right by the entrance of the building, but the rest of the 37,500 sq. ft. building is dedicated to research.
Only accessible by badges, The MadLabs floor itself includes 13 individuals labs, or faculty research clusters. Each lab began as an idea from a DSU faculty member, with topics ranging from Business Analytics Research (C-Bar) to Digital Exploration for Enhanced Network Defense (DEFEND Lab). All 4 of DSU’s colleges are represented in the MadLabs, even the College of Education with the Professional Development and K-12 Cyber Education Lab.
“The CYCLOPS portion of the building is highly secure; you need a high-level security clearance to get into it,” Pauli added, “it’s on par with the most secure faculties.” The security cameras outside the building, though they may seem intimidating to some students, are only there to monitor the building, not for surveillance of the campus.
“The variety of opportunity [that MadLabs brings] is pretty exciting,” Pauli continued, “some of our faculty and students will really be connected with federal agencies, some with state-level agencies, some with private sector companies out of Sioux Falls or right here in Madison.”
There are already some important connections between MadLabs and the community. East River Electric and NRECA have partnered with DSU, in collaboration with Butte Electric Cooperative, Inc., Union County Electric Cooperative, Montgomery’s, Rosebud Wood Products, Kolor Works, and Rheem, to produce the Smart Home Lab as a test space for appliance-controlling software, and LifeScape has partnered with the AdapT Lab to modify ride-on cars for kids with mobility disabilities.
“If we sat down a year from now it would be really nice to say all the MadLabs have a clear path forward,” envisioned Pauli, “they’ve established their research plan, they’re meeting with potential supporters or funders, they’ve engaged students, from Ph.D. level students down to undergrad students, and everywhere in between.”
10 years from now, the goal is to have the premises buzzing with the activity of up to 300 full-time researchers, DSU faculty, and DSU students. Pauli hopes DSU teaching programs and research will be heavily intertwined by that point and that each will benefit the other.
“MadLabs is a university building; it’s no different than the library, or Kennedy Center, or the Trojan Center,” Pauli concluded. “We would love to have student groups over here in the briefing room; come have your meetings, have your student affairs, or student council, or student senate…this is part of DSU.”