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updated 10/20/2011 5:19:33 PM ET 2011-10-20T21:19:33

Northeastern University has built a facility to serve as a testing ground for new homeland security technology.

The state-of-the-art Northeastern University’s George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security – a new $12 million center donated to the school by an alumnus George J. Kostas – will serve as a lab for researchers and students to test cutting-edge technology that address key problems facing the country, such as how to detect explosives and boost cybersecurity.

"Northeastern University has been researching and developing technology for the Department of Homeland Security for years, but it was difficult to try out our devices in real-life situations," said Mel Bernstein, the senior vice provost for research and graduate education at Northeastern University. "We can now test the tech at the facility and take them a step further." [Read: 10 Profound Innovations Ahead]

The Kostas Institute has space for researchers to actually test bomb detection devices, as well as have access to highly secured databases not typically found on university campuses that will help cybersecurity testing. The center is located about 15 miles away from Northeastern University’s Boston main campus in Burlington, Mass.

Northeastern isn’t the only school that is researching and developing new high-tech devices for Homeland Security. A handful of universities across the country – from Northeastern University and Boston University to California Institute of Technology – participate in a program called Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (ALERT), which makes up the Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence (COE). Through the program, universities seek to develop ways to detect, mitigate and response to explosives-related threats.

The Kostas Institute will allow those working through the ALERT program at Northeastern, as well as others working on security issues, to take their research to the next level to see how it fares in real-life situations.

"We are also in conversations with state and federal agencies to explore whether a facility like this would be useful to their organizations," Bernstein told TechNewsDaily. "We are also offering courses for Homeland Security and emergency management employees that need to interact with an environment that is normally restricted."

The Kostas Institute opened in September.

Reach TechNewsDaily senior writer Samantha Murphy at smurphy@techmedianetwork.com. Follow her on Twitter @SamMurphy_TMN

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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