Wright State to offer summer research experience in secure and trusted microelectronics for undergraduate students

Fathi Amsaad, assistant professor of computer science, is the principal investigator of Wright State’s Training Research for Undergraduate Students in Secure and Trusted Systems program.

Wright State University will offer undergraduate students cutting-edge research experiences in cybersecurity during a new summer training program supported by the National Science Foundation.

The Training Research for Undergraduate Students in Secure and Trusted Systems (TRUST) program will be open to domestic undergraduate students from around the United States.

The program is dedicated to “sustaining cyber defenses and strengthening the future workforce in the area of secure, trustworthy, reliable and resilient domestic semiconductor supply chain manufacturing,” said Fathi Amsaad, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science at Wright State and the principal investigator on the project.

The program’s goal is to recruit and train a diverse cohort of nine students annually, emphasizing students from underrepresented groups, community colleges and institutions with limited research opportunities.

The project is a collaboration between Wright State, the Air Force Institute of Technology and the University of Kansas.

“By providing students with hands-on research experiences and mentorship from leading experts in the field, we aspire to cultivate the next generation of innovators and thought leaders in cybersecurity,” Amsaad said.

Starting in 2025, students selected for the program will participate in 10 weeks of hands-on research training focused on secure microelectronic applications each summer for three years. The application process is expected to open in the spring of 2025.

Students in the TRUST program will learn to tackle cybersecurity challenges prevalent in areas such as internet-connected devices, artificial intelligence security, side-channel attacks and hardware-based authentication. Students will learn skills to address cybersecurity challenges in industrial, government, military and aerospace applications.

The students’ research activities will primarily take place at Wright State and the Air Force Institute of Technology.

The project is supported by a $367,000 federal grant, $166,000 of which was awarded to Wright State. The project is supported by the National Science Foundation’s Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, the Division of Undergraduate Education in the foundation’s Directorate for STEM Education, and the Awards to Stimulate and Support Undergraduate Research Experiences program in the U.S. Department of Defense.

Amsaad also received funding from the National Science Foundation’s Center for Hardware and Embedded Systems Security and Trust for a collaborative research project on the detection of hardware trojan modification attacks.

Amsaad said the projects show the National Science Foundation’s trust in Wright State and highlight the university’s dedication to interdisciplinary research and its commitment to making meaningful contributions to cybersecurity and trusted systems.

These new cybersecurity projects complement Wright State’s Assured Digital Microelectronics Education and Training Ecosystem program, a $14.5 million Air Force contract designed for novel research and to train students in cybersecurity and trusted and assured semiconductor microelectronics.

Last year, Amsaad received federal support from the National Security Agency to launch the National Pathway to Success program, a national cybersecurity training program for students from community colleges and underrepresented groups. Wright State is collaborating with four-year universities and community colleges from around the country in the Cybersecurity Academic Consortium and Career Bridge for Minority and Community College Students.

“We are excited about the opportunities that these grants present and are committed and dedicated to maximizing their impact through collaborative research efforts and meaningful student engagement,” he said. “This funding represents a significant milestone for our institution and reaffirms our position as a cybersecurity research and education leader.”

In 2023, Amsaad established the Semiconductor Microelectronics Security, Assurance, Resilience and Trust (SMART) Lab at Wright State.

Amsaad, who earned his Ph.D. in engineering with an emphasis on computer science and engineering from the University of Toledo, has a hardware security and trust background. His research interests in cybersecurity include hardware security and trust, chip-level security and authentication, supply chain security, hardware modification and Trojan detection.

In addition, Wright State’s College of Engineering and Community Science offers several cybersecurity programs, including undergraduate and graduate certificates, a minor in assured and trusted digital microelectronics, a bachelor’s degree in information technology and cybersecurity, and a master’s degree in cybersecurity.

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