RIT Program: Computing Security MS (projected graduation in 2020)
Hometown: Chennai, India
Last summer Nishi completed a co-op with RIT and Eaton Corporation, testing embedded devices. The co-op opened doors for her at RIT as a student leader and connected her to the university and Rochester community. Through her engagement with the department as a Research Assistant and her involvement with Women in Cybersecurity (WiCyS) and RITSEC (a student club dedicated to “Security through Community”) Nishi has made a home for herself at RIT and is fully prepared to graduate in 2020.
Nishi has additionally been Co-captain of RIT’s Collegiate Pen Testing Competition Team (which took 2nd place in an international competition in November 2019), has instructed GenCyber Summer Camp, was chosen as the Computing Security Graduate Delegate for 2020 Commencement, and attended a Women in Cybersecurity Conference in Pittsburgh last March!
“My co-op over this past summer was with RIT and Eaton Corp. on testing their embedded devices (basically devices that are not as powerful as mobiles or laptops). My role involved performing a vulnerability assessment of a device given to the team by the company and test it for any vulnerabilities. Thereafter a report was written up highlighting any vulnerabilities (and their severity) that the team found in the device. I chose this co-op as it perfectly aligned with my interest in Embedded system security. Through this co-op, I developed a keen interest in penetration testing and reporting. And this just encouraged me to apply for the Documentation and Presentation lead on the CPTC team. So this co-op opened quite a few doors for me, some of which I never knew existed!”
Ever wondered what kinds of engineering goes into making of a run-of-the-mill cellphone? Well, there is no definite answer. In fact, in the deeply interconnected world that we live in, every engineering marvel that is seemingly so obvious is the result of people from various parts of the spectrum coming together, sharing ideas and putting all the pieces where they belong. RIT recognizes this and has been trying to instill the same spirit in research as well as in the coursework that students take.
Being a graduate student in the Computer Engineering department, I can vouch for the broad base of courses that I am allowed to take as a part of my degree. I have already decided to take a course from the Electrical Engineering department and hopefully another from the Computing Security department. Taking relevant courses from outside our department not only broadens our knowledge base but also brings about an interdisciplinary area of expertise which both the research community and the industry requires.
Much like this bridge which connects the College of Computing (left) with the College of Engineering (right), RIT students go beyond disciplines to innovate and collaborate!
RIT also encourages you to mix with faculty and student researchers from other disciplines. It is not mandatory for you to pick a graduate advisor from your department. I have personally known many graduate students to align with an advisor outside their department because they either had common research interests or some relevant background which made him a good fit. For instance, a friend of mine from Computer Engineering chose a Professor from Computing Security to be his advisor because he was looking for security as his focus area and his communications background made him a good fit for the Professor who was working on wireless security for IOT devices and vehicular communications.
This approach has been very well-admired by companies that come to hire RIT students during the career fair. Companies across the board, from Amazon and Google to Microsoft, as well as numerous local industries based in the Rochester area are impressed by the talent and preparation of RIT students. Our graduates are well-prepared to hit the ground running. Alumni return to their alma mater and further encourage students to participate in cross-disciplinary projects and research collaborations.
The greatest piece of advice from myself to other students considering RIT is to never be afraid to ask questions – to others and to yourself. It is going to be your greatest asset and a tool not only in your time as a graduate student trying to explore a research problem but also in the later stages of your career!