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Farmingdale State College plans $6.6M transit security research center

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul announces a $6.6 million

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul announces a $6.6 million grant to support a regional transportation security study at Farmingdale State College on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Farmingdale. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Farmingdale State College and two of its partners were awarded $6.6 million in state grants to establish a research center focusing on transportation and infrastructure security, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Thursday during a brief visit to the campus.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, security planning has played a more prominent role in the building and rehabilitation of bridges, tunnels, airports and other infrastructure, she said.

“So, it has forced all of us to rethink how we educate people who are going to be the planners, the designers, the engineers of our infrastructure projects going forward,” Hochul told professors and others who had gathered at the Farmingdale campus. “Now, you need to layer in a security element.”

The college, the only SUNY institution offering dedicated baccalaureate programs in security systems and aviation administration, will establish the Infrastructure, Transportation and Security Center at its Farmingdale campus, and plans to hire five full-time faculty members and 15 adjuncts in the next five years.

The school will also establish new research and academic programs, graduate- and undergraduate-level courses and skill-based training programs.

Together, the college and its partners, Stony Brook University and Nassau Community College, have pledged another $21 million to fund the center.

Dimitris Samaras, an associate professor in the computer science department at Stony Brook University, said one of the ongoing research projects he is looking to test in the near future is the automatic inspections of roads, bridges, and rails using cameras mounted on vehicles and trains.

As they travel over roads, bridges, and tracks, the cameras will capture images of the infrastructure, and analysts will be able to review their conditions and learn where repairs are needed.

“Machines will decide where are the critical points, where infrastructure needs to be inspected by someone or needs to be fixed,” Samaras said. “That way, we do not need for bridges to collapse or roads to open up on the [I-]495 in order to go and fix them.”

Jeanne Radigan, chairwoman of the aviation department at Farmingdale State College, said her group is developing a certificate program to train security officers to work at New York City-area airports, but students will receive training for a specific airport because Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports have different needs.

“We hope to have that up and running this year,” she said.

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