Students from across county take on CyberMedical Challenge

June 11, 2024 (Volume 47, Number 19)
Article by Michele Coffill

Twenty students from universities across the country converged at Grand Valley for a weeklong course that tasked them with hacking into medical devices.

The CyberMedical Challenge, held at the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing's Innovation Design Center, was sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. Karl Heimer, consultant and cybersecurity expert, coordinated the event and said Grand Rapids was the perfect location because of its medical innovation prowess. 

"Having a stronger medical device market is something the MEDC sees as a community imperative," Heimer said. "Because these devices, much like our cars and watches, are being built with increased processing units and technology, we need to train people how to design them as well as detect any hacking to keep patients safe."

Instructors from two cybersecurity companies, NetSPI and GRIMM, led classes. Heimer has created cyber challenges for the auto industry and said the format of this inaugural program was similar: class instruction before students took on a challenge to hack into devices like patient monitors and IV pumps.

Along with training future cybersecurity experts, Heimer said the MEDC views these events as talent recruitment. Representatives from the Michigan Cyber Command Center, a division of the Michigan State Police, were available to answer questions about their field and network with students.

Students came from the University of California-Berkeley, University of Maine, Grand Valley, Michigan Tech, Colorado State, Purdue and DePaul universities. Kohl Goldsmith, from Michigan Tech, said he hoped to make industry connections and learn different aspects of cybersecurity.

“There’s no better place to explore medical technology than Grand Rapids,” Goldsmith said.

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This article was last edited on June 3, 2024 at 8:43 a.m.

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