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SCCyber: UofSC Heads Initiative to Enhance Cyber Security

The CSE department's cybersecurity research and NSA designations as a National Academic Center of Excellence are critical pillars of the initiative. If you are interested, see our Information Assurance Specialization and Certificate of Graduate Study in Information Assurance and Security. Below is a copy of the announcement from USC News.
From personal conveniences like online banking, electronic health records, and self-driving cars to national infrastructure like power grids and air traffic control, sensitive technology shapes our world. At the same time, new technologies are vulnerable to criminal exploitation and malicious or unintended usage. To prepare South Carolina to meet these challenges, the University of South Carolina, along with a consortium of leading industry, academic, and government partners, announces the creation of SC Cyber. SC Cyber is a statewide initiative, housed at the university and committed to securing our state’s critical infrastructure and to training those on the front lines of the fight to protect technological assets. The formation of SC Cyber was announced Wednesday (Feb. 24) by South Carolina Gov. Nikki R. Haley and UofSC President Harris Pastides. Building on the outreach efforts of USC’s Office of Economic Engagement, initial partners include the state Department of Commerce, the S.C. National Guard, academic institutions like Clemson University, and industry partners like IBM. "Carolina is proud to serve as the epicenter of this important work. We look forward to working with all our the consortium members in leveraging and expanding access to new technologies, research and education,” Pastides said. In South Carolina alone, there are an estimated 2,300 open cybersecurity positions and the field has grown more than 130 percent since 2010. SC Cyber will prepare students for high-paying cybersecurity-related jobs in the Palmetto State, as well as provide ongoing training and workforce development for practitioners already in the field. Initial course offerings will begin in the summer of 2016. “As hackers grow increasingly sophisticated, the need for skilled cybersecurity professionals is growing faster than ever – and the good guys must join forces in order to keep pace,” said Shelley Westman, vice president of Operations & Strategic Integration Initiatives for IBM Security. “IBM is committed to fostering collaboration between educators, public and private sector. To that extent, we are happy to partner with programs like SC Cyber to help develop the cybersecurity workforce of the future. By sharing data, tools and expertise amongst peers and students, we can better prepare the industry to defend against this new breed of advanced threats.” S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt agrees. “In South Carolina, our businesses are contemporary and dynamic, embracing the latest in technology and leading the way in innovation. With these advances, the continued development of our cyber security footprint is critical. More than just an economic driver, the expansion of this crucial industry sector will help ensure that our firms are utilizing the latest in IT protection, keeping South Carolina businesses and its employees secure,” Hitt said. SC Cyber also will develop educational content that can be disseminated to partner institutions and interested parties nationwide. By sharing the latest knowledge and techniques in threat detection, mitigation, response, and prevention, SC Cyber will help governments and businesses large and small to develop proactive strategies to assess and thwart cyberattacks, said Lester Eisner with USC’s Office of Economic Engagement. “SC Cyber is an opportunity to build a cyber ecosystem that leverages the best of industry, academia, and government,” Eisner said. “By utilizing 21st century technologies, tools, and talents, we can improve the security and prosperity of our state and our region.” Beyond training and education, SC Cyber will serve as a hub for research and development of new cybersecurity-related technologies through UofSC’s status as an NSA Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and Research as well as the talents and expertise of SC Cyber’s industry and academic partners. By Jeff Stensland,, 803-777-3686
Also see Columbia Business Report article.

Student SPARC Winners

We congratulate two of our students for winning 2015-16 SPARC graduate research grants. They are Karina Liles for her project "Meeting students educational needs by engaging students in multiplication practice with a social robot" and Xiao Lin for the project "Computational Tool for identifying branching type of hyphal growth models". You can view the full list of winners.

CSE Magellan Winners

We congratulate the following students for receiving the Magellan Scholar undergraduate student research award. In the Fall 2015 Omar Ansari, Noel Raley, Theodore Stone, Nathaniel Stone, Audrey Talley, Nick Weidner, and Ashleigh Williams received the award, while in the Spring 2016 the recipients were Austin Pahl and Steven Dao. Undergraduate research is strong in the CSE department. If you want to get involved in research just ask any professor in the department about it. The full list of winners and more details on each award are available here. Omar Ansari is featured in this USC news article.

Alumni Focus: Jeremy Greenberger

Jeremy Greenberger The article Inside IBM: The Inventors Who Are Creating the Era of Cognitive Computing features our own Jeremy Greenberger (BS in CS, 2014) and his work creating the future:
Jeremy came to IBM just 1 1/2 years ago with a freshly-minted BS in computer science from the University of South Carolina. But, already, he’s making his mark as a prodigious ideas man. He has submitted 60 invention ideas for internal IBM review, of which 18 have so far been approved for patent applications and 6 have been submitted to the US PTO.
Jeremy is also featured on Young inventor sets out to shape the future.

Student Wins Second Place in USC Proving Ground

We are happy to report that Philip Conrad, a Senior in Computer Science, along with Benjamin Davis, a PhD student in Structural Engineering, have been awarded second place in the USC Proving Ground competition. They proposed a security system and app that alerts users when there is an intruder. See video below.

CyberSecurity Team at CyberSEED

Our CyberSecurity teams have returned from UConn's CyberSEED competition and have done very well! The CTF team participated in Symantec's Professional CTF scenario and came in 6th place this year. We were competing with teams from all over the country and have blown our placement from last year (13th) out of the water in a very close competition. This year's scenario was an insecure bank, complete with a real ATM and debit card forgery. This year's team members were Collin Morrell (Team Captain), Adam Formenti, Nate Fuller, and Nick Connon. We also sent a team to take place in the new Social Engineering competition as well. They came in 8th place in what sounded like a very difficult contest. They were required to breach a simulated company through insecure HR, helpdesk, web portal, email and telephone practices. This competition very clearly demonstrated that people are the biggest security vulnerabilities any company has. The Social Engineering team members were Yasemin Pak (Team Captain), Dakota Jones, Clay Norris, and Abhishek Bottu. Please help us congratulate our competition teams! We are very proud of what they have accomplished.

New Faculty: Dr. Gregory Gay

We would like to welcome our newest faculty member Dr. Gregory Gay. He received is PhD in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota. His research interests are in software engineering and automated testing techniques. He is currently teaching CSCE 740: Software Engineering. USC news has an interview with him.

Dr. O'Kane Receives NSF Research Award for Robot Controllers

Dr. Jason O'Kane has received an NSF research award for his project entitled "Why is automating the design of robot controllers hard, and what can be done about it?" This project seeks to bring together new techniques for filtering and planning to improve reasoning and analysis steps employed during robot design. By understanding those parts of the design process that are typically conducted by hand and by asking which parts can be practically automated, the research has the potential to assist practitioners by scaling up the problems tackled, optimizing systems automatically, and ultimately freeing designers from low-level detail and elevating their use of time.

Dr. Terejanu Receives NSF Research Award

Dr. Gabriel Terejanu has received an NSF research award for his project is entitled "SciLAF: Scientific-based Learning Assessment Framework for Student Knowledge Tracking". The project addresses the fundamental challenge of assessing individual student's knowledge in cornerstone engineering classes with high student-to-faculty ratios. The goal is to develop a computational assessment framework that easily integrates into an instructor's routine efforts to track student knowledge, suggest remedial interventions, and guide future examinations.