Cybersecurity Masters Students Show Off Their Capstone Research With Industry Partners

May 17, 2019

By Erica Yee

A semester of hard work and perseverance culminated in a recent celebratory exhibition where MS in Cybersecurity students showed off their research to the wider Khoury community. The MSCY Spring 2019 Capstone Event, which took place on April 18, offered an opportunity for students to share the projects they completed with an industry partner.

Each of the eight teams who presented at the event not only demonstrated how they accomplished each client company’s request, but also practiced communication skills by summarizing their work in a short presentation to the audience. The groups covered a wide range of topics from building a mechanism that assesses security risks of cloud vendors, to evaluating a company’s network and ability to protect customer information from data breaches.

An MS in Cybersecurity student explains his capstone project

The capstone projects provide practical experience for students in an academic setting and allow them to work closely with industry partners. The diverse array of this year’s partners — which included Ernst & Young, Raytheon, medical supplier Philips Healthcare and financial technology company Intralinks — highlighted the varied needs across industries.

A benefit of the capstone event is that “students see what other teams were working on with companies and hence get more information about what the industry is demanding from cybersecurity professionals,” says Professor Jose Sierra, associate director of the MS Cybersecurity graduate program.

Professor Jose Sierra speaks to the MS in Cybersecurity students and the audience

At the end of the night, the MSCY students voted on the best project. The team behind “GoLang Static Application Security Testing Tool” won the Spring 2019 Capstone Award for developing a tool that detects injection attacks for software written in Go, an increasingly prevalent programming language.

“The project was really challenging at the start. None of us actually had experience in the language before,” says Delwin Thekkinkad (MS, Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance ’19) of himself and his teammates Ankit Kumar, Dhanendra Gujar, Himanshu Saraswat and Nupur Jain. “Every week we were learning new things and going back and refining what we had previously done. At this point we’re relieved that we’re finally done with it.”

Thekkinkad already knows he is interested in application security after graduation. “That was part of the focus of the entire project, so I do look forward to exploring that further,” he says.

The team that won the Capstone project competition holds the trophy.

The MSCY capstone event gives faculty the opportunity to evaluate students’ skill and knowledge before they graduate and see how students have evolved during their time in the program.

Beside allowing students to explore a specific area of interest in cybersecurity, the capstone course also helps shape the MSCY program and keep it relevant. “We survey our industry partners, questioning them about our students’ strengths and weaknesses, so we can take than into account in our classes and curriculum,” says Sierra.

Sierra noted that the night was about being proud of what the teams accomplished over the semester. “There is no doubt that the capstone event is also a social event where students, faculty and industry partners interact, sharing experiences and celebrating the completion of an important achievement,” says Sierra.