Construction has begun on the Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge, or I-HACK
Gannon University celebrated the start of construction to its Institute for Health and Cyber Knowledge, or I-HACK, in a ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 10. The first swing of sledgehammers commemorating the beginning of interior demolition of Gannon’s Knight Tower, located at 131 W. Ninth St., concluded the ceremony to make way for construction of I-HACK.
The University unveiled plans for a $13 million project to complete the first phase of construction on I-HACK, which will focus on the first-floor lobby area and entrance, along with the second-floor space dedicated to its academic learning environments.
This educational space, the Pierre McCormick Cyber Learning Center, will fuse together academic learning and technology development across the fields of cybersecurity, cyber engineering, healthcare, computer-based applications, business management, and criminal justice focused on cyber defense.
The I-HACK’s Pierre McCormick Cyber Learning Center will house faculty offices and classrooms, open collaborative innovation spaces, as well as a security-controlled Cyber Hacking Lab, a Cyber Defense Lab and an Internet of Things Lab. In these labs, students will be involved in projects alongside faculty and businesses on a variety of cyber-related topics, including developing intelligent autonomous vehicles, intelligent health monitoring devices and smart sensors, as well as secure data storage and communications through advanced applications and intelligent systems design.
This initial construction phase for I-HACK is expected to be completed by Fall 2020. The construction following phase one will further develop the I-HACK’s integration with businesses and resources for the community. The University plans to develop the third and fourth floors in additional construction phases to create space dedicated to business idea development in the Hatchery, collaborative industry spaces for businesses and a top-tier data center.
Gannon’s I-HACK initiative was announced in November 2018 and facility design work began shortly thereafter to transform the former Verizon call center building. Less than one year later, architectural plans are in place and construction has now begun to make those plans a reality.
The announcement of construction starting on the academic space within I-HACK follows recent announcements of community and individual support toward the development of the facility and its resources. In early summer, the Lake Erie Research Institute by way of the Orris C. & Beatrice Dewey Hirtzel Memorial Foundation awarded it a $402,500 grant for the development of a supercomputing center. In August, I-HACK received a $2 million grant through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program for renovations toward creating the industry commercial space for cyber businesses.
In September, two Gannon alumni and Board of Trustees members contributed to I-HACK in significant ways. Stacy Juchno ’98 and her husband, Scott Dibble, helped to establish Gannon’s Cyber Innovation Fund with an initial $100,000 gift that was leveraged by an anonymous donor to a $250,000 gift, then matched by the University to create a $500,000 endowed Juchno Cyber Innovation Fund. The University launched a gift-matching campaign to build the fund to $1 million to drive a one-of-a-kind industry-academic innovation environment in downtown Erie. Following this in September, Gannon announced alumnus Pierre McCormick ’79 donated $1 million to the University to create the Pierre McCormick Cyber Learning Center to serve as the academic heart of the I-HACK.
The University also announced earlier this month the hiring of its new director of entrepreneurial operations, Brad Gleason, who will facilitate and coordinate Gannon’s business development initiatives in its Center for Business Ingenuity and the Hatchery in I-HACK. Most recently, the University was awarded a $110,000 grant from the George Alden Trust to support the creation of the Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, Center for Education and Research which will be located within I-HACK and will enable Gannon faculty and students to provide full-scale GIS data, analytics and mapping services to help drive informed decision-making throughout the region.