Aggie Winners at CSAW 2019!

Congratulations to the Texas A&M team for winning 3rd place in the 3D Printer Hack Challenge at the CSAW ’19 cyber-security competition held November 7-9, 2019 in Brooklyn, New York.

The Texas A&M team was comprised of Computer and Electrical Engineering students Akash TiwariMutaz Melhem, and Maccoy Merrell under the advisement of professor Stavros Kalafatis.

After progressing from the qualification round where participants were challenged to reconstruct a corrupted .gcode file, the team employed skills in file forensics and reverse-engineering, to decode a file that they sent through a Caesar Cipher decode to obtain instructions for the final competition. They then had to develop a male 3D printer piece that was scaled to fit a female 3D printed piece whose STL file was provided. In addition, the team was tasked to create a STL file and then decode an encrypted Data Matrix code (after determining it was not a QR code) which provided a message that was not decipherable. The team completed the challenge in seven hours and placed 3rd out of five finalist from schools across Canada and the US.

This was the third time the Texas A&M team had entered the competition. Last year, they placed third in a embedded security challenge. They have truly set themselves apart nationally within such a short period.

 

For more information on the event, go to https://csaw.engineering.nyu.edu.

Dr. Shakkottai Promoted to Full Professor

Dr. Shakkottai joined as an Assistant Profession in 2008. He was then promoted to Associate Professor in 2014, and is a Full Professor as of September 2019.

Congratulations Dr. Shakkottai for all of your hard work!

CESG in the News!

CESG’s own Dr. Kumar, and his colleague, Le Xie, shared concerns on cyber-security programs with KBTX.

Watch the full interview here!

“BRYAN, Tex (KBTX) – “The whole energy and power system is undergoing a revolution, in many ways,” said PR Kumar, the chair of Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University. “While this technology is fantastic, it also gives you attack opportunities.”

Professor Kumar and his colleague, Le Xie, are studying how we get power and protect its fragile network. Malware and ransomware are being used to steal data or even shut down power systems

“People are trying to hack into these systems all the time,” said Gary Miller, general manager of Bryan Texas Utilities. He says infrastructure renewal, along with sturdy software and research, is key in keeping the grid up and running.

“We have a robust cyber-security program at the city of Bryan and BTU. All of our software is protected as best we know how,” Miller said.

Professor Le says Texas A&M is poised to lead the field of cyber-security in the future.

“Texas A&M, from a historical perspective, has housed one of the largest energy power programs in North America.” Le said. “We have in this department alone a dozen or so professors working in this general area of power energy systems.”

While the experts work on keeping our grid safe from intruders, Le says there’s something that’s a bigger worry for us, everyday consumers.

You may remember a day in early August where ERCOT asked the state of Texas to conserve as much energy as possible in the afternoon.

“74 gigawatts,” Le said. “imagine the largest nuclear power plant (about 1 gigawatt). Demand two weeks ago was about 74 of those power plants working together at the same time.”

Le says a typical summer day has our homes demanding half the entire demand for power. Half of that? You guessed it. Air conditioning. As the Brazos Valley grows, how do we stay cool in the future?

BTU thinks they have the answer.

“In the near future I think solar will expand considerably,” Miller said. “in fact, BTU has very recently entered into a large solar purchasing agreement from a solar farm in North Texas that will serve a considerable amount of our electrical needs.”

Many would be pleased to hear this news, especially from an environmental perspective. Miller says while that’s a bonus, it’s actually going to be cheaper for you and me.

“It was the most economically beneficial for us.”

While solar and wind are emerging energy sources in the state of Texas, fossil fuels and natural gas are still 60% of our energy source, and experts agree that it will still be needed for the foreseeable future.”

 

Prof. JV wins ACM SIGDA Outstanding New Faculty Award at the Design Automation Conference (DAC), 2019

To read more about Dr. JV Rajendran, see Rachel Rose’s ECE article here.

IEEE Micro Top Picks in Architecture for 2018

Congratulations to CESG’s Dr. Paul Gratz!

Dr. Gratz’s paper titled “Synchronized Progress in Interconnection Networks (SPIN) : A New Theory for Deadlock Freedom” was selected for The IEEE Micro Top Picks in Architecture for 2018.

This paper proposes a new theoretical approach to deadlock freedom in interconnection networks, based upon reframing the problem as one of coordination among independent actors as opposed to a problem of resource acquisition ordering.

To read more about Dr. Gratz’s research, see Rachel Rose’s ECE article on the department news page in February 2019.

IEEE Micro publishes its yearly “Micro’s Top Picks from the Computer Architecture Conferences” as its May / June 2019 issue. This issue collects the year’s most significant research papers in computer architecture based on novelty and potential for long-term impact.

Get an early look at Dr. Gratz’s paper here:

“IEEE Micro Top Paper Pick 2018 – Gratz Synchronized Progress in Interconnection Networks (SPIN) A New Theory for Deadlock Freedom”.