Sept. 14, 2023

Engineering students conduct summer cybersecurity research


NDSU computer science students and a number of students from other engineering disciplines participated in national security-relevant cybersecurity research at NDSU during the summer. These students included electrical and computer engineering undergraduate students Sam Belde and Jennings Jurmu, and civil engineering undergraduate Ryan Patterson. 

On campus summer research activities in cybersecurity provide students with technical skill development opportunities much earlier in their careers than may be otherwise possible. It also provides students with an opportunity to take leadership roles in teams far earlier than typical and to learn while doing. This is all in addition to the valuable products of their research. 

“Working this summer was a great experience,” said Jurmu. “I learned a lot about my major while doing hands on work through research. I also got to collaborate with others, which could prove challenging at times but was overall beneficial to becoming an engineer.” 

On-campus research may be a first job in their field for many students.  Students can provide fresh perspectives to research projects.  Participation provides students with both technical and interpersonal skill development opportunities. In some cases, students’ lack of experience in doing things in a conventional way can aid in identifying unconventional solutions to problems, pushing the frontiers of knowledge. 

“Performing research in cybersecurity this summer, as a civil engineering student, has been an invaluable experience,” said Patterson. “I have learned and developed new skills, worked closely with a team of other students and gained exposure to a new career field.” 

Participating in research builds on what students learn in their courses. It can also help them to understand the importance of course topics.  Research participation also provides students with an opportunity to work on projects that are larger than those they will experience in their classes, providing experience in project and time management. After their undergraduate research experience, some students may decide to pursue graduate degrees and careers in research.  Others will pursue careers outside of academia and labs, once they complete their bachelor’s degree.  In both cases, summer undergraduate research participation will typically have a strong and lasting impact on students. 

“Undergraduate research provides synergistic benefits to both students and research projects,” said Computer Science associate professor Jeremy Straub, who also serves as the director of the NDSU Cybersecurity Institute and projects’ principal investigator. “Undergraduate students learn key skills that will aid them throughout their careers.  Working with students from other disciplines during a research project also prepares them for careers in interdisciplinary environments, typical of many employers’ workplaces.”

Summer undergraduate research builds on and enhances research conducted during the academic year by both undergraduate and graduate students at NDSU. NDSU is a U.S. National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security National Center of Academic Excellence in cyber-defense research, providing students with opportunities to collaborate with researchers from and work on projects for a number of federal agencies. It also provides access to specialized career fairs and other benefits.

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