Wrapping up 2016 Summer COAR Internships

As Summer 2016 comes to a close, the COAR mentors would like to thank our summer interns for an amazing summer filled with tons of teamwork and tons of hard work. We wish you all the best on your upcoming school years.

Student pictureBack Row: Cody Dietrich, Steven Day, Michael Jaynes, Jeff Neel

Front Row: Daniel Israeli, John-Luke Navarro, Audrey LoVan, Josh Lyle, Oliver Hui

*not pictured:  Ben Maciorowski

This summer, COAR hosted ten cybersecurity interns (two were returning from our 2015 summer cohort) from all around the United States. Students ranged from sophomores in college to PhD candidates. Not all the students were computer science or information security majors. Some of our students were mathematics and intelligence studies majors. The schools that we had represented this summer included: Andrews University[i], DePaul University[ii], Iowa State University[iii], Lewis University[iv], Mercyhurst University[v], Mississippi State University[vi], Simpson College[vii], University of Illinois Chicago[viii] (2), and University of North Texas[ix].

Location of Summer 2016 Interns' SchoolsLocations of Summer 2016 Interns’ Schools

The interns worked on a variety of projects including: moving target defense (MTD), mobile encryption gateway (MEG), vehicular cybersecurity, Darknet, etc. Some interns even participated in a hacking competition and cyber security games. To keep students informed and educated about new security, the COAR mentors (Jennifer Fowler, Amanda Joyce, Mike Thompson, and Roland Varriale) along with returning summer interns would hold two courses scheduled for the students to attend. Courses included items such as: code review, penetration testing, Linux system administration, Windows system administration, etc.  Students also received a tour of Argonne’s campus and had multiple stops to learn more about the history and work of Argonne National Laboratory. Dave Dickinson also spoke to the students about the importance of physical security. Although outside their normal wheel house, students began to realize how closely intermingled physical and cyber security are.

As the summer closes out, the mentors asked for candid responses to how the summer went, their experiences, and what advice would they provide to future interns. Jeff Neel a graduate student from Iowa State University said, “I learned to be persistent with my projects and not get discouraged when things are not working as expected, there is always a reasonable explanation.” Another student, John-Luke Navarro an undergraduate from Andrews University, stated, “I learned not to let slow progress discourage me, but to appreciate the time I had to improve my skills and learn as much as possible.” Some of the students reflected on what they planned to bring back to school with them. Audrey LoVan, an undergraduate student at Simpson College, told us, “I am now much more aware of cybersecurity risks and I plan to take that back and talk with my professors about it, perhaps even purpose a research idea to work with them on.  I hope my newfound knowledge will help me in my future classes and finally in my chosen career.” Another student, Daniel Israeli an undergraduate student from Mercyhurst University, explained, “I plan to take back the new critical skills I learned over the summer. Try to think problems through first but never be afraid to ask questions or clarity.” “My advice for future/potential interns is to be disciplined with your time – you don’t have mentors breathing down your neck every day to get work done, but those deliverables can sneak up on you very quickly. Also, be willing to move outside your comfort zone. Even if it’s something you don’t think you’ll be good at or you won’t like, that’s all the more reason to try it. You’ll surprise yourself with what you can learn when you’re doing something that you’re resistant to at first,” Michael Jaynes a PhD candidate from University of North Texas said. Finally, Steven Day, a graduate student at Lewis University, wanted to let future interns know, “The summer goes by quick. Learn as much as you can!”

The mentors also gave their candid responses about how the summer went. “Overall this summer was very productive, the work that the students did helped move many of the research ideas beyond an idea. Without them [students], they would most likely remain ideas for some time. The students this summer really took initiative with their projects. Many of them were unfamiliar with the projects or tools but took the opportunity to learn and ask very intelligent questions.” The mentors also hope that the students learned not only technical skills but also professional skills: public speaking, presentation and poster displays, group work, individual work, time management and priority setting. The mentors took a slightly different approach this year than previous years. It was a more hands-off, real world job situation approach taken as compared to previous years. Instead of the mentors providing exact information, the students had to make their own interim deliverables and stick to them. They were responsible for a handful of deliverables that the mentors would then discuss with them and provide overall feedback. Additionally, although many students loathed it, a blog article was required of each summer student this summer. This task helps the students learn how to write a more technically driven article. Students found it challenging but rewarding in the end to have a published article on the COAR website. Many students get into the norm of writing like they would talk, very conversational. Many students don’t even realize they are writing so conversationally until they get their article reviewed.

The mentors wish all the Summer 2016 cohort interns a great 2016-2017 school year. We look forward to continually collaboration and hope that you all reach out if you need anything.

If you are interested in potentially being a 2017 COAR Summer Intern or you are interested in recommending someone for this position, please email [email protected]. Additionally, if you are interested in any of the research that COAR members and the students have worked on, please reach out to [email protected].

This post was written by: Amanda Joyce

[i] https://www.andrews.edu/

[ii] https://www.depaul.edu/Pages/default.aspx

[iii] https://www.iastate.edu/

[iv] http://www.lewisu.edu/

[v] http://www.mercyhurst.edu/

[vi] http://www.msstate.edu/

[vii] http://simpson.edu/

[viii] http://www.uic.edu/

[ix] https://www.unt.edu/