You are here

Northeastern University opens George J. Kostas Institute for Homeland Security

September 22, 2011

On September 22, 2011 Northeastern University held the Grand Opening for the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security and the new state-of-the-art Laboratory for Structural Testing of Resilient and Sustainable Systems (STReSS Laboratory), located on the Burlington campus of Northeastern. This building was funded by a $12 million investment from alumnus George J. Kostas. The university also announced the appointment of the Kostas Institute's co-directors, Peter Boynton and Stephen Flynn, and last week announced the appointment of David Luzzi, Dean of the College of Engineering, as Executive Director of Northeastern University's Strategic Security Initiative. The STReSS Laboratory, designed by the faculty in Civil and Environmental Engineering, is equipped to test full-scale and large-scale structural systems and materials to failure so as to explore the development of new strategies for designing, simulating, and sensing structural and infrastructure systems. The central feature of the STReSS Laboratory is a 55'x35' strong floor includes 416 anchors spaced in a 2'x2' grid. Each anchor can withstand 200,000 lbs of tension or compression and 100,000 labs of shear. Other key features of the laboratory include a 40,000 lb crane; a staging area for specimen preparation that includes a 4'x4' grid of anchors for specimen stabilization during construction; a control and data acquisition room; a machine shop; a large loading dock area into which a truck can pull for specimen unloading; capabilities for concrete pouring and steel welding; and specialized power, ventilation, and compressed air systems. The first laboratory of its kind in the region, the STReSS Laboratory will provide a new range of opportunities for the Northeastern faculty, students, and partnering organizations to develop secure, resilient, and sustainable civil engineering systems to withstand extreme events.

Source: News @ Northeastern

North­eastern held a formal opening cer­e­mony on Thursday for the George J. Kostas Research Insti­tute for Home­land Secu­rity at the University’s Burlington, Mass., campus. The secure, state-​​of-​​the-​​art research facility, funded by a $12 mil­lion invest­ment from alumnus George J. Kostas, E’43, H’07, is crit­ical to advancing Northeastern’s lead­er­ship in secu­rity research.

The work of the Kostas Insti­tute will be pro­foundly impor­tant to North­eastern and to our nation,” said Joseph E. Aoun, pres­i­dent of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. “It will bring together our best minds to solve one of our greatest chal­lenges, and will leave a legacy that the Kostas family and North­eastern can be proud of.”


Kostas and his wife, Lea, joined Pres­i­dent Aoun for the cer­e­mony Thursday morning. Kostas thanked North­eastern for, in his words, making his dream a reality, and praised the researchers whose secu­rity projects aim to keep the United States a free and pro­tected nation.

My wife and I believe America offers the best system for the devel­op­ment of human poten­tial and the best incu­bator to con­tribute to the world,” Kostas said.

Throughout the day’s events, North­eastern leaders lauded Kostas as a visionary for his com­mit­ment to estab­lishing the insti­tute, which will present North­eastern with unprece­dented oppor­tu­ni­ties to improve national secu­rity through trans­la­tional, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research.

You invested in us, you believed in us and our pledge is very simple: we are going to honor your con­fi­dence now and for­ever,” Pres­i­dent Aoun told Kostas.

Dr. George Kostas is a pio­neer at the fron­tiers of sci­ence and engi­neering, and his patri­o­tism for our nation and his unwa­vering com­mit­ment to his alma mater is making all of this pos­sible,” said Sy Stern­berg, chairman of Northeastern’s Board of Trustees.

The Uni­ver­sity also announced the appoint­ment of the Kostas Institute’s codi­rec­tors, Peter Boynton and Dr. Stephen Flynn. Boynton, former com­mis­sioner of the Con­necticut Depart­ment of Emer­gency Man­age­ment and Home­land Secu­rity, and Flynn, pres­i­dent of the Center for National Policy in Wash­ington, D.C., will pro­vide strong lead­er­ship to address crit­ical home­land secu­rity chal­lenges through use-​​inspired, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research under­taken at the institute.

North­eastern has a strong port­folio of research ini­tia­tives built around secu­rity. In 2008, the Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity (DHS) selected North­eastern as one of 11 uni­ver­si­ties nation­wide for a DHS Center of Excel­lence. The $10 mil­lion grant estab­lished the Aware­ness and Local­iza­tion of Explosives-​​Related Threats (ALERT) center at North­eastern. Northeastern’s Marine Sci­ence Research Center in Nahant, Mass., is devel­oping robotic tech­nology to detect under­water mines and other coastal threats.

Designed in accor­dance with U.S. Depart­ment of Defense stan­dards, the 70,000-square-foot Kostas Insti­tute will give North­eastern the capacity and clear­ances to con­duct secure research in a restricted envi­ron­ment in areas ranging from cyber secu­rity to explo­sives detec­tion, mit­i­ga­tion and response to terror attacks.

The insti­tute is equipped to test new secu­rity tech­nolo­gies in a con­trolled envi­ron­ment and eval­uate its via­bility for addressing real-​​world secu­rity needs.

On Thursday after­noon, North­eastern researchers offered a pre­view of the inno­v­a­tive work set to begin at the insti­tute, with pre­sen­ta­tions in areas such as explo­sives detec­tion, cyber secu­rity, video tracking via unmanned drones and struc­tural testing for resilient and sus­tain­able systems.

Our inten­tion here is to create a dif­ferent national model, a model that will allow us to cap­ture the best of what goes on in basic research from fac­ulty and stu­dents and trans­late it to crit­ical prob­lems in secu­rity here at this facility,” said Mel Bern­stein, Northeastern’s senior vice provost for research.

This is truly a new chapter in the his­tory of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, in which we’ll make great strides in secu­rity research, a crit­ical domain in the 21st cen­tury and one that will engage our efforts across the Uni­ver­sity,” said David Luzzi, dean of the Col­lege of Engi­neering.

The Uni­ver­sity announced last week that Luzzi would serve as exec­u­tive director of Northeastern’s Strategic Secu­rity Ini­tia­tive. Luzzi, who is con­cluding his tenure as dean, will work closely with the codi­rec­tors of the Kostas Insti­tute and with Uni­ver­sity lead­er­ship and fac­ulty to fur­ther develop the University’s secu­rity initiatives.

Research at the insti­tute will also incor­po­rate a strong inter­dis­ci­pli­nary ele­ment, given that national secu­rity solu­tions span numerous areas such as engi­neering, com­puter sci­ence, health sci­ences and the social sciences.

The codi­rec­tors will be instru­mental in leading the insti­tute to serve as a resource for industry and for gov­ern­ment at the fed­eral, state and local levels. The research activ­i­ties under­taken at the facility will be sup­ported through exter­nally funded projects involving private-​​public mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary research teams working on home­land security-​​related challenges.

Peter Boynton was most recently com­mis­sioner of the Con­necticut Depart­ment of Emer­gency Man­age­ment and Home­land Secu­rity. He brings expe­ri­ence across all levels of gov­ern­ment and major func­tional areas of home­land secu­rity. He has held lead­er­ship posi­tions in port secu­rity as a Coast Guard Cap­tain of the Port and in avi­a­tion secu­rity as a TSA fed­eral secu­rity director. He also brings national expe­ri­ence as a former director on the White House National Secu­rity Council staff and at the U.S. Depart­ment of State.

Dr. Stephen Flynn comes to North­eastern Uni­ver­sity from the Center for National Policy in Wash­ington, DC where he has been Pres­i­dent after spending a decade as a Senior Fellow for National Secu­rity Studies at the Council on For­eign Rela­tions. The author of sev­eral of the leading books and arti­cles on home­land secu­rity, he is a fre­quent expert wit­ness before U.S. Con­gress, and one of the nation’s fore­most author­i­ties on and pro­po­nents of resilience as a secu­rity and soci­etal imper­a­tive. He has served in the White House as a part of the National Secu­rity Council staff and was a part of the Obama Pres­i­den­tial Tran­si­tion Team.