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GenCyber Junior Investigators Camp a Success

Bronwin Parish, a seventh grader at Esther F. Garrison School of Arts in Savannah, Georgia, now knows how to practice safe internet use thanks to the Junior Investigators’ Summer Experience, hosted at Georgia Southern June 19-23.

“I didn’t really know much about cybersecurity, and then I heard about this camp,” Parish said, standing next to her group’s poster display. “I was really excited to learn about different kinds of hackers. There are even good kinds of hackers! They help keep your computer safe. They capture blackhat hackers, the bad ones.”

The weeklong camp gave 40 middle school students from the region the chance to be immersed in the college environment, where they learned about cybersecurity with hands-on activities.

The week was made possible by a grant from the National Security Agency (NSA) and National Science Foundation (NSF). This week-long camp was offered at no cost to the participants, and was led by University faculty.

Kania Greer, Ed.D., coordinator of the Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education, Hayden Wimmer, Ph.D., assistant professor, and Lei Chen, Ph.D., associate professor in the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Information Technology, worked together as “co-investigators” to develop the camp. They created programs and activities that used digital forensics to teach the First Principles of Cybersecurity.  Greer coordinated the logistics of keeping 40 young students active throughout the week while Wimmer and Chen focused on cybersecurity content

Participants lived in Georgia Southern style, staying in the residence halls, eating at the Dining Commons and participating in activities throughout campus. They worked in lecture halls and computer labs, truly getting a feel for the technological resources offered at the University.

“We hope that by giving them some exposure to the campus, maybe they’ll be excited about coming to college,” said Wimmer. “This is the pivotal age for influencing kids to come to college, and we have the chance to influence their young minds with this camp.”

In addition to campus activities, students also took a field trip to the NSA at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, for a behind-the-scenes tour.

For one mother, sending her seventh grade son to Junior Investigators was a decision she believes set him up for a successful future.

“This is my son’s first time being off somewhere for a week, out of town, so I wanted it to be a positive experience. I knew it would be since it was Georgia Southern,” said Marquita Lockett, of Macon, Georgia. “I really believe he learned a lot about cybersecurity and will hopefully want to pursue a career in this field someday. He already seems so excited.”

“We hope the students took home some new knowledge and got excited about the possibility of careers in STEM, computing and cybersecurity,” said Wimmer. “We at least feel confident that there are now 40 students who are aware of career options they never knew about before. There are a lot of really cool jobs in this field.”

Wimmer and his colleagues hope to leverage this Junior Investigators approach and results for a full NSF Innovative Technology Experiences for Students proposal to continue this work.

“They have some interesting high school programs at the NSA that I want to do now,” said Parish. “I definitely could see myself doing cybersecurity now!”

Six New Programs for CEIT

The University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents recently approved the formation of six new programs in the Allen E. Paulson College of Engineering and Information Technology.

  • B.S. in Computer Engineering
  • B.S. in Construction Engineering
  • M.S. in Civil Engineering
  • M.S. in Electrical Engineering
  • M.S. in Information Technology
  • M.S. in Mechanical Engineering

The Department of Electrical Engineering will add the B.S. in Computer Engineering and the M.S. in Electrical Engineering programs, and be re-named the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The Department of Civil Engineering and Construction Management will add the B.S. in Construction Engineering and the M.S. in Civil Engineering, and be re-named the Department of Civil Engineering and Construction.

The departments of Information Technology and Mechanical Engineering will add their respective M.S. programs.  The current M.S. in Applied Engineering will focus on engineering management and become part of the Department of Manufacturing Engineering.

The current online M.S. in Computer Science will also expand to become a hybrid (face-to-face and online) program, allowing expansion of programs and service on campus.

This expansion of programs provides master’s degrees that are well recognized by industry professionals and graduate school applicants.  In addition, the graduate programs will allow Georgia Southern’s engineering and IT faculty to expand their cutting-edge research programs.  The undergraduate programs are popular with college applicants and the degrees are in high demand by employers across the region.

MechE and MSAE students honored for research at SAE World Congress

A team of undergraduate and graduate students from the Engine Combustion laboratory, led by faculty advisor Dr. Val Soloiu, presented their research papers at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress in Detroit MI (4-6 April 2017). The team, composed of Martin Muinos, Aliyah Knowles, Remi Gaubert, Jose Moncada, Bernard Ibru and Thomas Beyerl, presented state-of-the-art research on topics including advanced combustion modes, noise and vibrations studies in automotive engines, and intelligent/autonomous vehicles technologies. The team received seven awards for their research.

Adel El Shahat elevated to IEEE Senior Member

Adel El Shahat, assistant professor of electrical engineering, has been elevated to the grade of IEEE Senior member. Realization of this grade requires extensive experience and reflects professional maturity and documented achievements of significance. Only 10% of IEEE Power & Energy Society members and only 8% of IEEE members have the distinction of being a Senior member.

Keith Landry speaks at Ranger School graduation

On Friday, April 28, Keith Landry was the keynote speaker at Ranger School graduation in Fort Benning, GA.  Keith Landry, Ph.D., P.E., is currently serving as Interim Assistant Dean for Research, Interim Director of CITEMS, and Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering & Construction Management.  Before joining Georgia Southern, Dr. Landry retired from the U.S. Army with the rank of Colonel, having served 26 years in the Army Corps of Engineers.

Dr. Landry was greatly honored not only by being invited to speak, but also by being awarded his Ranger tab 31 years after having missed his graduation from Ranger School due to life-threatening injuries suffered during training.  Retired Col. Ralph Puckett, a Ranger legend who lives in Columbus, GA, pinned the tab on Dr. Landry’s suit coat, noting: [Ranger Landry] “sets an example for all Rangers — and especially for the young ones coming along.”  Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Victor Ballasteros added that “Ranger Landry is a true Ranger.  He embodies the Ranger Creed through his perseverance, selfless service and continued pursuit of excellence throughout his career.”

Dr. Landry will leave Georgia Southern at the end of the spring 2017 semester to serve as Assistant Public Works Director in Fort Lauderdale, FL.