The National Security Agency (NSA) this week formally broke ground on its second high-performance computing center, a 600,000-square-foot behemoth designed to help protect the nation's digital infrastructure.
A diverse group of dignitaries gathered Monday to tout the project as a key part of national security efforts, as well as a driver for economic development in the area.
"We are in a war for the future, and because of the Internet, we will have an enduring war," said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). "We need to be able to make sure we have the right computers, the right workforce and the right legal infrastructure to do it."
About 70,000 square feet of the facility will be filled by computers. Harvey Davis, NSA's associate director for installation and logistics, said the center will provide the computing capacity necessary to carry out the NSA's increasingly complex mission.
The project comes at a time when cyber attacks are reportedly increasing, and lawmakers are working to pass legislation to aid in collecting information on attacks to private networks.
NSA officials said that as many as 6,000 workers will be hired to construct the facility, which will be located on the former Fort Meade golf course property. A joint venture of Hensel Phelps and Kiewit will be in charge of construction, with project management and oversight from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In addition to referencing the construction jobs from the project, NSA touted a partnership with Howard County to use recycled "greywater" to provide the necessary cooling for the computing center.
The computing center is scheduled for completion in 2016.