The mission of the Security and Software Engineering Research Center is to conduct a program of applied and basic research on software security, system security, and software engineering problems in order to enable technology gains in member organizations.

Who Is S2ERC?

S2ERC researchers are faculty and students from CS, EE, Industrial Engineering, Management, Mathematics, and Systems Engineering programs at several different universities, including four primary, NSF funded sites: Ball State University (lead institution), Georgetown University, the University of Texas (Dallas), and the University of Oulu (Finland). The S2ERC attracts high-energy, creative researchers who represent the best in their field. Our researchers are national research prize winners, NSF Career Award winners, patent holders, chairpersons and co-chairpersons of major software conferences, and editors of major publications in software engineering. Some of the S2ERC’s most successful projects are in the areas of design metrics, testing, process modeling, security, and maintenance; but the S2ERC consistently draws in viable and respected researchers from around the country and globe to address any SE or security issue that may arise for our affiliates. Our affiliated organizations are diverse; stratified across fields such as national military, defense, and space programs; military contractors; communication, and information industries; equipment manufacture; health insurance; electricity/electronics; software development; and law. The S2ERC continues to serve companies with whom we’ve worked for more than 25 years while we welcome many new organizations into the research center.

Research & Process

Industry/university collaboration powerfully improves the software process and product. At biannual S2ERC showcases, affiliates review all current projects and new proposals, dialogue with other affiliates and researchers, and make funding decisions. An affiliate can choose from the new proposals posited by the research community, or he/she can request proposals in response to a specific problem in his/her organization. When an affiliate submits an IRFP (Industrial Request for Proposal), the research community will be notified, and those who want to work on the problem will present their proposals at the next showcase. In this way affiliates gain access not only to tailor-made, innovative, and competitive research, but also to all of the research projects in the center. The researchers of the S2ERC, for their part, gain access to real-world data and experienced practitioners who can validate their models and guide their research, not to mention long-term, stable funding. By definition, the S2ERC strives to cultivate industry/university dialogue throughout the technology transfer, and so customized security and software engineering research projects are thus the norm. A list of current projects is available here.


In 1976, the National Science Foundation established an Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) Program to encourage more collaborative endeavors between academia and industry. Our I/UCRC, now in its 33rd year of operation, is one of over 100 I/UCRCs established by NSF, and the only center devoted to software engineering. In 2004, the original Software Engineering Research Center (SERC) graduated from the I/UCRC Program and became a self-sustaining research center. As our research focus evolved to place greater emphasis on software and system security, NSF invited SERC to propose a new I/UCRC. In February 2010, SERC — housed at Ball State University — combined research strengths with the Center for Information Protection, also an I/UCRC, housed at Iowa State University, and the new Security and Software Engineering Research Center (S2ERC) was born. The S2ERC continues to grow and evolve: Virginia Tech, Georgetown University, the University of Oulu (Finland), and the University of Texas (Dallas), joined the center as NSF-funded sites in July 2011, April 2014, March 2018, and August 2018, respectively. Virginia Tech’s involvement with the Center ended in 2019.