Idaho National Laboratory cut the ribbon on two new buildings Monday that, it is hoped, will help give a major boost to the lab’s cybersecurity work and its research collaboration with the state’s colleges and universities.

“It really is a great day for education here in Idaho,” said Dave Hill, a former deputy director at INL who is on the state Board of Education now.

The Collaborative Computing Center and Cybercore Integration Center, which were financed by $90 million in bonds approved by the state Legislature in 2017, are located at the INL campus in Idaho Falls. Totaling about 150,000 square feet between them, the buildings are owned by the state — the state Building Authority sold the bonds and leased the land to the state Board of Education, which in turn leases the buildings to INL. Construction started in spring 2018.

INL, U.S. Department of Energy and state officials announced the buildings’ opening at a ceremony in the Collaborative Computing Center building attended by, among others, almost half of the state Legislature, who were in town as part of a tour organized by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce.

“I couldn’t be more excited to see what the collaborations produce for INL, Idaho’s institutes of higher learning and generations of students that will walk through these doors,” said Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who lives in Idaho Falls and is on the state’s Leadership in Nuclear Energy Commission.

The Collaborative Computing Center will soon house INL’s Falcon and Lemhi supercomputers. Next year Sawtooth will be moved there, which is expected to be one of the most powerful supercomputers in the Pacific Northwest when it goes online, INL said in a news release.

College and university students across the state already access Falcon and Lemhi’s modeling and simulation capabilities through the Idaho Regional Optical Network. The Cybercore Integration Center will focus on cybersecurity work, bringing together federal, state, academic and private industry researchers to develop infrastructure that can withstand threats such as cyberattacks and natural disasters.

INL Director Mark Peters thanked everyone involved in the project, including lawmakers, the DOE, the architects and contractors, and the colleges and universities whose students will use the buildings for years to come.

“It demonstrates the power of partnership, collaboration, teamwork and all the things that this represents,” he said.

Scott Green, president of the University of Idaho, said the university is looking to expand its own cybersecurity degree offerings and the buildings mark “a significant milestone for our partnerships.”

“This center is important for us continuing research with INL as well as the university’s growing cybersecurity efforts,” he said.

Reporter Nathan Brown can be reached at 208-542-6757. Follow him on Twitter: @NateBrownNews.