STEM outreach does its job

Alumni from Lincoln Laboratory's CyberPatriot team work as interns in cyber research

Last winter, four high-school seniors from local area schools were on the Lincoln Laboratory Cyber Patriots team. They learned how to detect and correct categories of vulnerabilities in a simulated network attack. Now that they’ve graduated, all four students acquired summer jobs in the field of computer science—one at MITRE and three at Lincoln Laboratory.  The three CyberPatriot alumni working at the Laboratory, Derek Chaplin, Patrick Bowden, and Matt Zenzie, served as summer students in the Cyber Systems and Information Sciences Group, mentored by Scott Macdonald and Sophia Yakoubov.  

Students and instructors of LLRISE 2012CyberPatriot alumni Matt Zenzie, Patrick Bowden, and Derek Chaplin (left to right) collaborate during their summer internships at the Laboratory.

Bowden indicated that CyberPatriot is "a great program to learn different things about networking." Chaplin and Bowden have been involved in the daily operations of the Cyber Research IT Services Team at the Laboratory. They have established an inventory and common usage description framework for all networked and non-networked computing devices assigned across Cyber Systems and Technology (Group 58) and Cyber System Assemssments (Group 59). The next phase of this project involves assigning risk categories to these computing assets based on research staff usage profiles. The desired end state for this project is a prototype asset configuration status report for potential use across Groups 58 and 59.  When asked if there were benefits of hiring a student who had been involved in the CyberPatriot program, Macdonald said, "The skills that Derek and Patrick gained while participating in the CyberPatriot competition have definitely allowed them to 'hit the ground running' in helping our IT services team address fundamental security controls in a very dynamic cyber research environment."

Zenzie has been developing software to help analyze data used to develop secure database search prototypes that enable the government to effectively balance need-to-know with need-to-share. Yakoubov said, "Matt is working on writing python code that does the post-processing and analysis of the data collected by these tests. Specifically, he has been working on automated database storage of the results, and on a linear regression tool to characterize the secure database search prototype performance. "

LLRISE 2012 building a radarBowden, Chaplin, and Zenzie (first, second, and fourth from left) are pictured with their team during the national CyberPatriot Final competition in spring 2013.

Chaplin reflected on the CyberPatriot program and its impact on his life. He said, "CyberPatriot is a very interesting program and it's incredibly helpful for understanding more about good cyber security practices. Cyber security is a necessity in the modern world and this competition was both informative and challenging, and entertaining as well. My future plans are to become a programmer and CyberPatriot was a good way to help practice this skill because of the opportunity to write quick security scripts during the contest to help resolve any vulnerability in the system."

Zenzie graduated from Boston University Academy, and is going to University of California, San Diego. Recent graduates of Northeast Metropolitan Regional Vocational High School, Chaplin is attending Wentworth Institute of Technology, and Bowden is attending Suffolk University. All have chosen to enter the Computer Science field.

If the ultimate goal of STEM outreach is to entice more students to major in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (i.e., STEM), then for these three interns, the CyberPatriot program is already a success.

Posted October 2013

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