Category: Outreach

ROTC Cybersecurity Training for Tomorrow’s Officers

The U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research, has awarded Michigan Tech faculty researchers a $249,000 grant that supports the creation of an ROTC undergraduate science and engineering research program at Michigan Tech. The primary goal of the program is to supply prepared cadets to all military branches to serve as officers in Cyber commands.

The principal investigator (PI) of the project is Andrew Barnard, Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. Co-PIs are Timothy Havens, College of Computing; Laura Brown , Computer Science, and Yu Cai, Applied Computing. The title of the project is, “Defending the Nation’s Digital Frontier: Cybersecurity Training for Tomorrow’s Officers.”

The curriculum will be developed over the summer, and instruction associated with the award will begin in the fall 2020 semester. Cadets interested in joining the new program are urged to contact Andrew Barnard.

Initially, the program will focus on topics in cybersecurity, machine learning and artificial intelligence, data science, and remote sensing systems, all critical to the The Naval Science and Technology (S&T) Strategic Plan and the Navy’s Force of the Future, and with equal relevance in all branches of the armed forces.

The plan of work focuses on on engaging ROTC students in current and on-going Cyber research, and supports recruitment of young ROTC engineers and scientists to serve in Navy cybersecurity and cyber-systems commands. The program will compel cadets to seek positions within Cyber commands upon graduation, or pursue graduate research in Cyber fields.

“Our approach develops paid, research-based instruction for ROTC students through the existing Michigan Tech Strategic Education Naval Systems Experiences (SENSE) program,” said principal investigator Andrew Barnard, “ROTC students will receive one academic year of instruction in four Cyber domains: cybersecurity, machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI), data science, and remote sensing systems.”

Barnard says the cohort-based program will enrich student learning through deep shared research experiences. He says the program will be designed with flexibility and agility in mind to quickly adapt to new and emerging Navy science and technology needs in the Cyber domain.

Placement of officers in Cyber commands is of critical long-term importance to the Navy (and other DoD branches) in maintaining technological superiority, says the award abstract, noting that technological superiority directly influences the capability and safety of the warfighter.

Also closely involved in the project are Michigan Tech Air Force and Army ROTC officers Lt. Col. John O’Kane and LTC Christian Thompson, respectively.

“Unfortunately, many ROTC cadets are either unaware of Cyber related careers, or are unprepared for problems facing Cyber officers,” said Lt. Col. O’Kane. “This proposal aims to provide a steady flow of highly motivated and trained uniformed officers to the armed-services, capable of supporting the warfighter on day-one.”

Andrew Barnard is director of Michigan Tech’s Great Lakes Research Center, an associate professor of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, and faculty advisor to the SENSE Enterprise.

Tim Havens is director of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems, associate dean for research, College of Computing, and the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems.

Laura Brown is an associate professor, Computer Science, director of the Data Science graduate program, and a member of the ICC’s Center for Data Sciences.

Yu Cai is a professor of Applied Computing, an affiliated professor of Computational Science and Engineering, a member of the ICC’s Center for Cybersecurity, and faculty advisor for the Red Team, which competes in the National Cyber League (NCL).

The Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) provides state-of-the-art laboratories to support research on a broad array of topics. Faculty members from many departments across Michigan Technological University’s campus collaborate on interdisciplinary research, ranging from air–water interactions to biogeochemistry to food web relationships.

The Army and Air Force have active ROTC programs on Michigan Tech’s campus.

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) coordinates, executes, and promotes the science and technology programs of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.


Welcome to Spring 2020 Preview Day!

Welcome prospective students and friends and families! The Michigan Tech College of Computing is pleased to welcome you to Spring 2020 Preview Day.

Since you’re at home instead of on campus, we’ve prepared a special video to share with you today. Well, actually our academic advisor Kay Oliver produced the video. Thanks, Kay! (Scroll down to play the video.)

In the video, Kay will tell you about our undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and show you lots of photos of Michigan Tech students, faculty, labs, and classrooms.

Kay, along with Denise Landsberg, our second academic advisor, are standing by to answer your questions. You can email Kay and Denise at csadvisor@mtu.edu.

Please read more below the video.

College of Computing Preview Day: Spring 2020

On the virtual tour, you’ll also hear from Dr. Linda Ott, chair of the Computer Science department, who’ll fill you in on the Computer Science and Software Engineering degree programs, concentrations, and minors and go over some of the first-year Computing courses.

And you’ll learn a little bit about our Applied Computing degrees:

Computer Network and System Administration (CNSA)
Cybersecurity
Electrical Engineering Technology (EET)
Mechatronics

And if you’re still exploring which Computing degree is the right one for you, check out our General Computing major, which gives you a little time and space to make this important decision.

Finally, Computer Science prof Dr. Chuck Wallace will tell you about Michigan Tech’s unique student Enterprise program, where Computing students are working on real computing solutions for real clients. The Computing-focused student Enterprises are:

Husky Games
HIDE (Human Interface Development Enterprise)
IT Oxygen Enterprise.

Please enjoy the video. Contact us anytime with your questions, large or small, and be sure to visit our website (mtu.edu/computing), our news blog, and visit, share, connect, and like us on social media.

We hope to see you on campus this fall!


Inspiring the Next Generation of Cyber Stars

Yu CaiGenCyber LogoBy Karen S. Johnson, ICC Communications Director

We live in a world where pretty much everything and everybody – individuals, companies, governments, critical infrastructure – are increasingly dependent on connected systems, networks and devices. And, as newspaper headlines reveal, those systems may be insecure and vulnerable to hackers.

“Nowadays, everybody is using computers, and more and more things are connected. That provides convenience, flexibility, a lot of great things, but it also opens the doors for hackers,” says Yu Cai, associate professor and program chair for the Computer Network and System Administration program at Michigan Technological University.

“The world has increasingly become a combination of the physical world and the cyber world,” Cai adds. “That’s why cybersecurity is important, because you want to protect yourself. As human beings, we evolved over thousands of years to take care of our security in the physical world. But in the cyber world, many don’t have a very good idea of how to protect themselves.”

Cai is principal investigator on two grant awards, each for about $85K, which are making possible two free, non-residential, week-long GenCyber summer camps on Michigan Tech’s campus. The first camp, for middle school and high school students, is the week of June 17. The second camp, for K-12 STEM teachers, is the week of August 12. Both camps and all learning materials are offered at no cost to camp participants. Each participant will receive a Raspberry Pi minicomputer. Breakfast and lunch are provided. For enrollment information, visit mtu.edu/gencyber.

Funded jointly by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), the goals of the nationwide GenCyber program are to increase interest in cybersecurity careers and diversity in the national cybersecurity workforce, help students understand correct and safe on-line behavior and how they can be good digital citizens, and improve teaching methods for delivery of cybersecurity content in K-12 curricula.

“This is part of our picture to make Michigan Tech a leader in cybersecurity research and education,” Cai says of this summer’s GenCyber camps. “We have other cybersecurity curriculum development grants that focus on college education, now we want to outreach to K through 12.”

In both camp sessions, participants will explore the world of cybersecurity through real-world case studies, hands-on learning activities and games, interactive lectures, career exploration, and field trips. Covered topics include safe online behavior, cyber ethics, fundamental computer and network knowledge, and cybersecurity career options and educational opportunities.

“We’ll also cover common vulnerabilities and weaknesses of computer systems, such as how hackers get into the systems, and how systems can be strengthened to defeat hackers against the hundreds of vulnerabilities,” Cai adds.

Tim Van Wagner, a lecturer at Michigan Tech and a co-PI on the grants, is the lead teacher for the camps. Cai and his other co-PIs—associate professor Guy Hembroff and assistant professor Bo Chen—will also present learning modules and assist with the camps.

K-12 pedagogical expertise in curriculum development was provided by Copper Country Intermediate School District (CCISD) staff members Emily Gochis, Director of the Region 16 MiSTEM Network, and Steve Kass, Educational Technologist.

“Steve and Emily provided a lot of input and suggestions regarding the camp curriculum and advised us in the best practices for teaching high school students,” Cai says, adding that they are also helping to promote the camps in local public schools.

Driving the curriculum are four principles: Learning by Storytelling, Learning by Doing, Learning by Gaming, and Learning by Teaching. Cai and his team will be assessing the effectiveness of these principles using several methods. The resulting research will be shared with the GenCyber program and the public.

The two grants are titled, “Innovative GenCyber Learning Experience for K-12 Teachers Through Storytelling + Teaching + Gaming + Doing” and “Innovative GenCyber Learning Experience for High School Students Through Storytelling + Teaching + Gaming + Doing.”