CS Department News

Gov. Parson Joins Southeast in Celebrating ABET Accreditation of Cybersecurity, Computer Science Programs

Underscoring the importance of investing in Missouri's future workforce, Southeast Missouri State University today announced its growing Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity is one of only four programs nationally to receive accreditation this month from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc., (ABET).

The University's Bachelor of Science in computer science also has been reaccredited by ABET.

Dr. Carlos Vargas, president of Southeast Missouri State University, made the announcements in conjunction with a visit by Missouri Gov. Michael L. Parson to Southeast. Both Vargas and Parson touted the creation of high impact STEM jobs as vital to a modern economy in Missouri. The announcement came at the site of Southeast's future cyber range, expected to open in spring 2019.

Missouri Gov. Michael L. Parson, right, joined Southeast Missouri State University President Carlos Vargas, left, in announcing ABET accreditation of Southeast's cybersecurity program and reaccreditation of the computer science program.

Vargas said ABET accreditation is significant because until now, no program-specific accreditation for cybersecurity programs existed. Last fall, ABET invited just four schools nationally to participate in a pilot accreditation process for cybersecurity. Through the process, Southeast's undergraduate cybersecurity program was awarded accreditation last week. Southeast and the other three schools that participated in the pilot program are now the only accredited cybersecurity programs in the nation.

Southeast launched its Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity in 2011 to meet the growing need for security of computer networks and systems that store digital personal, financial, health and governmental records. At the time, Southeast's cybersecurity program was one of its kind in Missouri and one of less than 50 nationally. The program has grown from 15 students in its infancy to more than 150 students today.

For the past six years, Southeast's cyber defense team has won the Missouri Collegiate Cyber Defense competition and has advanced to and consistently finished in the top five at the Midwest Regional Cyber Defense Competition which draws teams from schools in 12 Midwest states.

Southeast's cybersecurity graduates are increasingly sought after by tech-savvy employers who rely on cyber-infrastructure for their operations. Cybersecurity graduates are needed for crucial roles in national and international industries and private and public-sector companies, which increasingly have become targets of stolen information.

"Southeast has become a preferred university for recruiting among top-level companies," said Dr. Vijay Anand, director of Southeast's cybersecurity program, faculty advisor to Southeast's cyber defense team and associate professor of computer science. "These types of companies always visit Ivy League universities, but our cybersecurity students are that good."

Companies such as Dell Secure Works, AIG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ameren have hired Southeast student interns and graduates, Anand said.

Gov. Parson toured facilities for Southeast's Unmanned Aircraft Systems program and watched a student fly a drone.

Cybersecurity students also will be able to advance their education in a new Master of Science in cybersecurity beginning next spring at Southeast. The Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education recently approved the new program focusing on critical societal and business infrastructure – water, power, communications, military, healthcare and transportation – to meet this need.

The U.S. Department of Labor expects a 22 percent growth in job demand over the next decade in this area as security against hackers and disruption is a continual, ongoing and growing concern. Business and agency leaders regularly express the need for highly trained employees in cyber protection, and Southeast is prepared to help fill this niche, he said.

Vargas also announced that work on a Cyber Range at Southeast will begin in the coming weeks in Dempster Hall, providing an enhanced environment for specialized cybersecurity testing and training. It will serve as both a resource to students and faculty and assist in providing the infrastructure to host and promote education and training opportunities.

"It is our hope that this space, along with our demonstrated academic success, will serve as a catalyst for creating a centralized point for encouraging and promoting partnerships between government, industry, education and other sectors in this critically important area," Vargas said.

Those on hand for the announcement also celebrated the reaccreditation by ABET of Southeast's Bachelor of Science in computer science. The program, first accredited in fall 2010, was reaccredited under new pilot guidelines in 2017. Southeast was among a small number of institutions choosing to pilot under the new evaluation process. The reaccreditation reaffirms the program is meeting standards to produce graduates prepared for the global workforce.

Southeast computer science and cybersecurity students celebrated the accreditation announcement.

One of the key elements of ABET accreditation is the requirement that programs continuously improve the quality of education provided. As part of this continuous improvement requirement, programs set specific, measurable goals for their students and graduates, assess their success at reaching those goals, and improve their programs based on the result of their assessment.

Vargas called Southeast's programs in computer science, computer information systems and cybersecurity "second to none."

Programs in Southeast's Department of Computer Science serve more than 400 students in three undergraduate programs and nearly 50 students in a new Master of Applied Computer Science being offered for the first time this fall. The programs are increasingly in demand among tech-savvy students who are looking to take their skills to the next level and are helping fill the need for qualified employees in local, regional, state and national arenas.

As evidence of that, a team of Southeast computer science students took third place last fall in a 24-hour artificial intelligence programming competition, finishing behind two teams made up entirely of industry professionals.

Dr. Sumanth Yenduri, chair of the Department of Computer Science, says graduates of Southeast's computer science programs have gone on to be employed by companies such as Google, Garmin, Vizient, Microsoft and J.P. Morgan.

"There isn't a discipline or job that doesn't need computer science," said Dr. Sumanth Yenduri, chair of the Department of Computer Science. "They are also highly paid and needed in every type of industry."

Yenduri says the number of job openings for computer science graduates will outpace the number of graduates through 2024.

"Missouri's projected growth rate for all STEM occupations from 2014 to 2024 is 9.6 percent," Yenduri said. "Six of the top 10 occupations with the greatest number of projected openings are related to computers."

Computer science graduates top the list of projected highest paid Master of Science graduates with an average projected salary of $81,039, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the job outlook for software developers is expected to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026.

Vargas concluded saying Southeast will continue innovating and developing high tech programs such as cybersecurity and its new geographic information science, industrial and systems engineering, Unmanned Aircraft Systems and others across all disciplines to boost local, regional, state and national economies

Business Notebook: Southeast computer-science professor Anand speaks about cybersecurity, business/university collaborations

Monday, August 13, 2018
Computer-science professor VijayAnand poses for a photo Wednesday in a classroom at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. Every business with an online presence needs to be concerned with cybersecurity, said Vijay Anand, associate professor in Southeast Missouri State University's computer science department. Anand spoke during the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce business leadership series breakfast Tuesday. Anand helped found the cybersecurity program at Southeast, and has worked in several security positions for companies including Motorola. So when he talks about the need for a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, he knows what he's talking about. Anand said whether a company outsources cybersecurity services or handles them in-house, the first step is identifying assets: "What does your company have that needs protecting?"
Awards won by Southeast Missouri State University cybersecurity students are seen Wednesday in professor Vijay Anand's office at Southeast Missouri State University. In many cases, it's data, he said. Collecting data on customers has legal implications, he said, and knowing how long to store that data is important. Asking about how to protect against malware is also important, he said. Do company employees know how to spot malicious emails? It's a matter of education, he said, and is something companies need to be aware of. Companies can't just rely on changing up their employees' passwords every few months, he said.
Computer-science professor VijayAnand accesses a server Wednesday at Southeast Missouri State University. In fact, that's not a great idea, Anand said: passwords rely on human memory, and it's just not reliable enough, which leads to people writing their passwords down, which is dangerous, too. "I would say a pass phrase is better than a password," Anand said, as a sentence is typically easier to remember than special characters and capitalizations. Anand said a password manager is also fine. "It's really not the easiest thing to deal with," he said of password security. Anand said business owners who have a particular project in mind, or who need an intern, could have collaboration opportunities with the computer science department at Southeast.
Computer-science professor VijayAnand accesses a server Wednesday at Southeast Missouri State University. "Our graduates are in high demand," Anand said, adding the department recently broke the $100,000 threshold for a bachelor's degree graduate starting salary. The department has grown from about 20 graduates to about 200 anticipated this year, Anand said. Catapult Creative House is another possibility for businesses looking for help with graphic design or software, Anand said. "We want to work with the local community," Anand said. "Our primary goal is to serve this region."

Faculty Honored

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Dr. Suhair Amer, Dr. David Naugler, Dr. Tamela Randolph

Dr. David Naugler and Dr. Suhair Amer were recently honored for their service to SEMO. Dr. Naugler was honored for his many years of service as a professor in the Computer Science Department and was granted Professor Emeritus standing. Dr. Amer was honored for ten years of service as a professor in the Department. Dr. Amer and Dr. Naugler are pictured with Dr. Tamela Randolph, Dean of the College of Science, Technology and Agriculture.

CS Students Visit Local School

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Dr, Yenduri, Aaron Gunther and Michael Ranciglio helped out in advertising the CS department at Oran elementary school. Five sessions were held for grades 3 - 6. They demonstrated and let the kids play the game (wizard wreck), which the students built as part of their course requirement for Dr. Liu's class.

CS Department Students Participate in MegaMinerAI Programming Competition April 14-15

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L to R: (Back Row) Sierra Wetmore, Andrew Smith, Grey Ruessler, Michael Ranciglio, Aaron Gunther, Derek Mandl, Mark Eikel, Stephen Sladek, Ethan Reker, and Jeremy Devore(Front Row) Ethan Gyori, Britani Prescott, Jesse Raines, Emma Knight, and Kearsten Collins

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Andrew Smith getting ready to code

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L to R: Emma Knight, Kearsten Collins, Jeremy Devore, and Hannah Reinbolt (Officer of ACM-SIGGAME group that organizes the competition)

The MegaMinerAI Programming competition was on April 14-15. MegaMinerAI is an AI game programming competition held every semester in Rolla, MO where students and professionals alike compete to create an AI that can defeat the other AIs in an arena.

This semester's theme was called Pirates. Participants would create ships, and crews to controls the ships, then go forth and attempt to steal gold from enemy and merchant ships. Gold is used to build more ships and crews. Destroying ships granted "infamy", and the AI with the most generated infamy at the end of 720 turns, or the first team to destroy the enemy fleet won.

There were 28 teams that competed including teams from Garmin and Google. Twenty students from SEMO competed this semester, with students Andrew Crutcher, Caleb Smith, and Michael Lucas taking fifth place in the global bracket. Andrew Smith also took fifth place within the student only bracket.

The competition was sponsored by Garmin, Union Pacific, Tradebot, and ACM.

Southeast’s Department of Computer Science Celebrating Half Century as Tech Industry Evolves

Student takes over other student's work

This year, Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Computer Science is celebrating more than 50 years of processing and computing courses, degrees and graduates as it evolves to meet today’s trends in the computing industry.

The program first launched as an associate’s degree in 1966 and was among the earliest computer science programs to first appear in U.S. universities. Today, it has grown to offer three bachelor’s degrees — Computer Science, Computer Information Systems and Cybersecurity — and one graduate program — Applied Computer Science. Today’s students are adept at using technology to process data at speeds a million times faster than those from the department’s humble beginnings and on devices a fraction of the size of their 1960s’ counterparts.

The program has evolved substantially from its early years to today’s rapidly changing digital age. It continues to attract high-quality students and is meeting the needs and demands of the local, regional and national industry.

A significant number of faculty members offer industry experience to better educate students, and remain competitive by revising traditional courses, offering new courses and expanding degree programs to meet current industry and technology changes and standards.

As a discipline, computer science continues to integrate into almost every aspect of life, and the job market is exploding for graduates with computer science-related degrees, said Dr. Sumanth Yenduri, chair of the department.

“There isn’t a discipline or job that doesn’t need computer science,” he said.

Southeast student operates ibm computer in first floor of academic hall

Southeast student operates the IBM 370 computer located in Southeast’s Computer-Data Processing Center on the first floor of Academic Hall in 1974.

Evolution of a Department

The ability of Southeast graduates to use computers for job-related skills first appeared on the Southeast campus in the early 1960s.

“Courses in computer programming and numerical analysis provided mathematics students with a working knowledge of the operation of high speed computers now becoming indispensable to industrial progress,” according to the 1963 Sagamore yearbook. In those days, data processing and operating punch card machines were important skills for business majors in the analytical strategies and techniques of real-world corporate situations.

An Associate of Applied Science in computer science was first available in 1966, and an Associate of Arts in data processing was added in 1968.

In 1973, a Department of Computer Programming was created, and a Bachelor of Science in computer science allowed students to move from learning how to operate computers and program them with instructions to the more advanced skills of designing the systems that make computers work. These qualifications allowed graduates to be qualified for high-level entry careers.

Southeast’s computing capabilities were also having an impact on the local and regional community.

IBM 370 computers located in Southeast’s Computer-Data Processing Center on the first floor of Academic Hall not only were used by classes and for student-employee training sessions, but also for the University’s administrative processes, including payroll, inventory, billing and directory lists, and for scheduling services (for the University and nearly 30 public schools in the southeast Missouri region).

Over the next three decades, the Department of Computer Science continued to flourish and grow, with the addition of a Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Science, now known as Computer Information Systems.

“Our students knew how to do more than just theorize,” said Dr. Bill Weber, retired chair of the Department of Computer Science, who served in that capacity from 1981-1996.  “We had tremendous students, and it was my goal and the faculty’s goal to make sure they knew how to do the work.”

The program and its graduates became known for that reliable reputation, said Weber. His students could always find jobs, and many had multiple offers before graduation.

By 1997, evidence of comprehensive and dynamic courses was clearly visible. Graduates accepted jobs with national corporations including Edward Jones and System Service Enterprises Inc.

Southeast student in Southeast’s Computer-Data Processing Center on the first floor of Academic Hall in 1984.

The program continued to recognize the ever growing uses and needs for computer science skills and knowledge over multiple disciplines, not just academically but within all aspects of industry. Students were encouraged to not only pursue advanced study, but also to consider opportunities in unconventional areas, including agriculture, environmental science, biology and the humanities.

Quality Education

The computer science program earned accreditation from the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board of Engineering Technology (ABET) Inc. in fall 2010. Receiving ABET accreditation demonstrated the University’s commitment to providing a quality education and marked an important step in the University’s continuing efforts to attract academically strong students to the program.

One of the key elements of ABET accreditation is the requirement that programs continuously improve the quality of education provided. As part of this continuous improvement requirement, programs set specific, measurable goals for their students and graduates, assess their success at reaching those goals, and improve their programs based on the result of their assessment.

Many students are now choosing computer science because the digital age needs more computer scientists, Yenduri said.

Computer scientists design, analyze, and develop software for the computer systems and networks that power today’s world. Software applications range from personal computing to entertainment systems to life-critical applications such as medical and flight systems. Developing such software requires a high degree of specialization. Computer scientists are the individuals with the critical expertise to do this.

In the Computer Information Systems program students learn everything they need to design, develop, and deploy a wide range of integrated, end-to-end applications and services to assist small, medium and large businesses become more connected with customers, employees, partners and suppliers. Students use products and technologies to build solutions that connect people to each other and to the business processes. Students will learn how to integrate applications and processes, how to facilitate communication, and how to develop comprehensive and reliable solutions.

Many students are now choosing computer science because the digital age needs more computer scientists.

The department and Computer Science and Computer Information Systems programs support hands-on and experiential learning, providing students the opportunity to work on projects in collaboration within the industry.

Students have developed mobile applications, web-based applications, modules and programs for local and regional sponsors and businesses as part of their capstone experiences, including Southeast’s Admissions Office and College of Education; Procter & Gamble and Vintage Software, LLC, both of Jackson, Missouri; Big River Telephone Company, MedAssets, Element 74, River City Biologicals Inc. and Impress Career, all of Cape Girardeau; and WW Wood Products Inc. of Dexter, Missouri.

The caliber of computer science students’ skills is also seen in their published works and performances at regional and national competitions. In 2017, a team of computer science students took third place at MegaMinerAI, a 24-hour artificial intelligence (AI) programming competition hosted by the Missouri S&T Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM) Special Interest Group (SIG)-Game. Their third-place finish is especially noteworthy considering their competitors of 30 plus teams, including professionals with years of experience from Google, Garmin and others.

Because of the comprehensive and dynamic experiences student receive, many high-profile companies continue to recruit Southeast computer science graduates, including Boeing, Garmin, Microsoft, AT&T, Edward Jones, Maritz, Big River Telephone, Element 74, Vintage Software, MedAssets, NASA, NISC, Centena, Google and many more. They also continue to support the program and its students by providing internship opportunities and capstone experience projects.

“They have a high probability of being employed before graduating or within six months of graduating,” Yenduri said. “They are, also, highly paid and needed in every type of industry.”

Additionally, many graduate schools have recognized the quality of Southeast’s computer science and computer information system students who have been accepted at the University of Missouri, Auburn University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Rice University, University of Arizona and many others.

In 2011, Southeast launched a new Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity to meet society’s growing need for security of computer networks and systems that store digital personal, financial, health and governmental records. Originally housed in Southeast’s Department of Polytechnic Studies, but supported by the Department of Computer Science, Southeast’s cybersecurity program was one of its kind in Missouri and one of less than 50 in the country to offer a degree when students enrolled for the first time in the fall 2011 semester.

Dr. VijayAnand (center), director of Southeast’s cybersecurity program, helps the cybersecurity team student captains prepare for the state and regional cyber defense competitions.

The program would quickly prove relevant at preparing Southeast graduates for lucrative positions in national and international industries and private and public-sector companies, which increasingly have become the target of stolen information.

“Southeast has become a preferred university for recruiting among top-level companies,” said Dr. Vijay Anand, director of Southeast’s cybersecurity program, faculty advisor to Southeast’s cybersecurity team and associate professor of computer science. “These types of companies always visit Ivy League universities, but our cybersecurity students are that good.”

Companies such as Dell Secure Works, AIG, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ameren have hired Southeast student interns and graduates, Anand said.

Southeast cyber defense students are consistently showcasing their top-notch talent and skills, and have finished in first place six consecutive years since 2013 at the Missouri Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

The continued interest in cybersecurity across all disciplines and industries prompted the creation of a new minor in 2015 in cybersecurity in business systems. The minor allows students with majors outside of traditional science, technology, engineering and mathematics a chance to enhance their resume, broaden their skill set and meet rapidly changing workforce demands for tech-savvy graduates.

In 2017, the cybersecurity program was organizationally moved to the Department of Computer Science.

Bright Future

The job market is exploding for computer science majors, locally, regionally and globally, said Yenduri.

“Computer science is all encompassing across all disciplines,” he said. “We have to prepare our students for the future and for the workforce. The curriculum we are planning is looking at not just what is needed now, but also what will be needed in the future.”

The department received re-accreditation of its computer science degree following new ABET approved criteria. Only a handful of computer science programs in the world have applied and received this distinction, said Dr. Xuesong Zhang, professor of computer science.

“The faculty members worked extremely hard in getting the ABET accreditation seven years ago and renewed it in fall 2018 without any deficiency or major concern,” he said. “The faculty went above and beyond to achieve this success.”

Dr. Ziping Liu (right), professor of computer science, guides her student through the best practices and skills needed to become a well-rounded computer science graduate.

The department is also working on preparing its computer information systems degree for accreditation in the near future.

The cybersecurity program was recently selected to participate in a piloted accreditation process by ABET for a new cybersecurity accreditation. Southeast is only one of four institutions nationally, said Yenduri. It’s an honor that the department looks forward to completing this summer.

Developing new undergraduate certificates and expanding the graduate degree options are also ways Southeast can continue to meet student and industry needs, added Yenduri. This includes expanding the course and classroom experiences to Southeast Online, where more and more students and working professionals are exploring non-traditional ways to earn their degrees.

With the diligent effort of faculty in the department, a new Master of Science in Applied Computer Science has been approved to begin in fall 2018.This program is expected to attract both national and international students, Yenduri said. Southeast undergraduate students may also complete it in a year if they enroll in the accelerated program.

One of the most recent and exciting additions is the creation of the department’s own cyber stadium in Dempster Hall, a virtual world and private cloud that can be programmed for limitless purposes, from hosting cyber defense competitions to renting out the digital space to companies for data storage and use. The stadium can also support student and faculty research, as well as department or University projects. Plans are underway to expand and relocate the stadium in Dempster Hall.

Enrichment outside of the classroom is important as well. The department houses five student organizations — Association for Computing Machinery, Association for Computing Machinery – Women, Association for Computing Machinery- Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science Club and the Cyber Defense Club — to foster the various interests and fields in computer technology. The student-led groups have hosted seminars and presentations, hands-on workshops and hackathons. The level of commitment shown by the students to develop their skills and expand their knowledge outside the required coursework is extraordinary, said Dr. Suhair Amer, professor of computer science.

“To see the excitement on student faces, particularly when they fix a bug and their programs run successfully, is a proud moment for me as their teacher,” she said. “They never give up and continue to move forward each time they fail. They are patient and stay calm even when deadlines are approaching and have never ending requirement changes.”

Today’s students are encouraged to find success wherever their interest or heart is. In the age of side-hustles, students can put their entrepreneurship skills to use to create the next big business or company, said Yenduri. This spring, the department is partnering with the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Catapult Creative House to launch a computing station space to help students who dream of creating the next greatest app, website or tech start-up move their entrepreneurial concepts to reality.

As industries continue to demand computer science knowledge, Southeast’s Department of Computer Science will undoubtedly evolve to cultivate students and graduates prepared to address today’s needs with the confidence to predict and solve tomorrow’s challenges.

“In my 18 years at Southeast, the Department of Computer Science is at the best it’s ever been,” Zhang said. “The faculty members have instilled more energy, and overall there is a high morale and excitement among the faculty and our students. They are the main force to make more good things happen, and we are poised for an amazing future.”

Meet the Department of Computer Science Faculty

Dr. Sumanth Yenduri, chair of the Department of Computer Science and professor of computer science, joined the department in 2017. His research interests include software engineering and process development, software metrics/systems/modeling/simulation, wireless sensor networks and big data.

Dr. Suhair Amer, professor of computer science, joined the department in 2008. She has taught many courses and supervised several research projects involving undergraduate students. Her research interests include computer and distance education, programming image processing/compression, biologically inspired computer/security solutions, computer simulation experiments and human-computer interaction.

Dr. VijayAnand is an associate professor of computer science, director of Southeast’s cybersecurity program, and faculty advisor to Southeast’s Cyber Defense team. Anand has been a faculty member since 2011 and joined the department in 2016. His research interests include adaptable embedded architectures guaranteeing secure executions for evolving threats to preserve security and privacy of cyber assets and entities, real-time adaptability of trusted platform modules for cryptographic primitives, certificate reevocation and operation, human cyber interaction for usable security, security processes for risk-based decision-based systems, privacy in secure commerce and jGlobus, a Java based Globus® toolkit, an open source software toolkit provided by a non-profit business within the University of Chicago.

Dr. Ziping Liu, professor of computer science, joined the department in 2001. Her research interests include wireless ad-hoc network/sensor network’s secured and QoS cross-layer communication protocols, computing model for underwater acoustic sensor networks, data broadcast scheduling with multiple channels, multifaceted assay on cybersecurity, design of fault-tolerant and high performance algorithms for distributed computing, video game development, and algorithms.

Carole Pfeiffer is an instructor of computer science, and joined the department in 2000. She teaches computer information systems-related courses.

Dr. Xianping Wang, assistant professor of computer science, joined the department in 2017. His research interests include cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, machine learning, machine vision, signal processing, control theory, intelligent transportation, Internet of Things, Stochastic Modeling, modeling and simulation.

Dr. Xuesong Zhang, professor of computer science, joined the department in 2000. His research interests are in artificial intelligence, operating systems, algorithms, computer architectures and computer education.

Southeast Cyber Defense Team Takes Second at Midwest Regional Competition

The Southeast Missouri State University cyber defense team took second place at the 2018 Erich J. Spenger Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) March 23-24 at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois.

Southeast finished behind Indiana Tech, which now will represent the Midwest and advance to the National CCDC April 13-15. Southeast advanced to the Midwest Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition after taking first place March 3 for the sixth straight year at the Missouri Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

“The students’ performance shows the quality of students our program produces. As always excellence and quality of skills are key outcomes of our program,” said Dr. Vijay Anand, director of Southeast’s cybersecurity program, faculty advisor to Southeast’s cybersecurity team and associate professor of computer science. “The students’ efforts and their commitment to showing this is a testament to their efforts to learn beyond the classroom and focus on honing their skills, which our program fosters.”

The competition was designed to test each team’s ability to secure a networked computer system while maintaining standard business functionality. The teams were expected to manage a computer network, keep it operational and prevent unauthorized access. Each team was expected to maintain and provide public services during a simulated threat.

The goal was to measure a team’s ability to maintain secure computer network operations in a simulated business environment. This is not just a technical competition, but also one built upon the foundation of business operations, policy and procedures, Anand said. A technical success that adversely impacts business operation results in a lower score as does a business success that results in security weaknesses. Teams were scored on their ability to detect and respond to outside threats, including cyber-attacks, while maintaining the availability of existing network services such as mail and web servers, responding to business requests such as the addition or removal of additional services, and balancing security against varying business needs.

Taking third place in the competition was DePaul University in Chicago. Also competing at the regional were Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; Milwaukee (Wisconsin) School of Engineering (MSOE); Baldwin Wallace University of Berea, Ohio; Cuyahoga Community College of Cleveland, Ohio; Northern Kentucky University of Highland Heights, Kentucky; Baker College of Flint, Michigan; and St. Cloud State University of St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Southeast students competing were Lucas Kossack of Grantsburg, Illinois; Jonathan Fulling of Bloomington, Illinois; Mackenzie Bonneville of Mapleton, Illinois; BrytonHerdes of Xenia, Illinois; Ben Shell of Marble, Hill, Missouri; Jonathan “Jonny” Johnson of Rolla, Missouri; Ethan Gyori of Eureka, Missouri; and Adam Elfrink of Jackson, Missouri; The team’s alternates are Drake Fisher of Carbondale, Illinois; Andrew Banning of Salem, Illinois; Scott St. John of Wildwood, Missouri; and Stephanie Graessle of Ballwin, Missouri.

Anand said the Southeast cyber defense team will continue to build on its success. Plans to expand and relocate a cyber stadium in Dempster Hall is a step in that direction, he said. The cyber stadium provides a virtual world and private cloud that can be programmed for limitless purposes, from hosting cyber defense competitions to renting out the digital space to companies for data storage and use. The stadium can also support student and faculty research, as well as Department of Computer Science or University projects.

“I would like to thank President (Carlos) Vargas and the administration for their support of the Cyber Stadium which is a critical state-of-the-art infrastructure for our students to practice,” Anand said.

Catapult Launching Computing Stations for Tech Entrepreneurs

For students who dream of creating the next greatest app, website or tech start-up, Catapult Creative House at Southeast Missouri State University is unveiling a computing space to help them move their entrepreneurial concepts to reality.

On Wednesday, March 21, Catapult, at 612 Broadway in downtown Cape Girardeau, will launch its new computing stations workspace for tech inspired student entrepreneurs. The launch is scheduled for noon-1:30 p.m. and will feature a presentation by Microsoft’s Chad Lich and Alex Zisser, both Southeast graduates, who will discuss “Digital Transformation.”

The computing stations are located on Catapult’s first floor in Room 102 with direct access to a 3D printer.

“Students can come in and work on their own personal business and start-up ideas,” said Leah Powers, operations manager at Catapult Creative House. “This allows them a direct work station with all the resources for app development and more.”

The idea for the space grew from interest expressed by computer science students who worked in Catapult’s former computer labs. Because they needed a specific set of programs and software unavailable at Catapult until now, efforts began to create the new tech area.

“Having their own working station with computers dedicated with specific software and programs came directly from meetings and discussions with students in the computer science program,” Powers said. “Computer science was a natural fit at Catapult because of its ties to entrepreneurship.”

Dr. Sumanth Yenduri, chair of the Department of Computer Science, said, “The Department of Computer Science is very excited about this new beginning. I am looking forward for both students and faculty to connect and utilize the various opportunities available at Catapult.”

Powers said several students already are working on a variety of projects, including educational apps and those for managing operations for large businesses.

“We expect a wide variety of apps and other projects to be created as our students’ interests expand after the stations open,” Powers said.

Fifteen students have been using the current space and are anxious to get started on the new computing stations, she said.  One of those students is Mathuran Suriyakumaran, a computer information systems major from Sri Lanka who has been using the current space to develop a prediction website for carGO to determine how many drivers are needed in, for instance, the next five or 30 minutes. CarGO is an on-demand ride hailing service in Cape Girardeau.

“We went to Catapult as a site visit. We were impressed with the space,” Suriyakumaran said. “This place is calm and good and available for night meetings anytime when we have an access card” for after-hours work.

Faizel Khan, a computer science major from India, is another frequent user and “appreciator” of the Catapult computing space. He and his friends are working on a startup concept, and they meet at Catapult to share their ideas.  They have contacted professionals in various fields to get feedback on their idea, and are now moving forward with their business plan and development of a mobile app for their business, he said

“I think this new space is going to bring a lot more opportunities for computer science (CS) students as well as students of other disciplines,” he said.  “New facilities, like 3D printing and Mac computers, will attract CS students to come and work at Catapult. This will create a unique opportunity for CS students to collaborate with other students, from the business field or others, to brainstorm start-up ideas. I think it’s an important step towards creating an inclusive environment, where students from almost every discipline can come together and exchange their valuable ideas to take a step forward towards entrepreneurship.

“The station will especially help those entrepreneurs that are keen in creating web-based businesses, as now they can easily approach CS students and ask if their ideas are feasible,” Khan said. “This may bring many projects into place that were just ideas before. I want to congratulate everyone at Catapult for achieving great heights and becoming a valuable part of this institute.”

Powers says Catapult expects student demand to continue to rise after the launch, as the new stations provide a unique and personal workspace for students to create their projects. The computing station space also offers students direct access to existing resources within the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Catapult Creative House. Students can come in and work on any of their projects any time of the day in their own work station during Catapult’s normal hours of 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday. They also may apply to have afterhours access to the building outside of their normal operating hours, a benefit not previously available on campus.

“This area allows students direct access to the resources they need to start their own tech business,” Powers said. “Its location and connection to the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Catapult Creative House also offers students additional support while developing their business with an opportunity to launch with our existing resources and the University’s support.”

Launch Speakers

 The computing stations launch and presentation, featuring Lich and Zisser, are open to the public. Lich is an IoT Cloud Solution Architect with Microsoft and has been helping global enterprises in their digital transformation for three years. Prior to Microsoft, Lich worked with Build-A-Bear and Intelligrated (Honeywell Company) as a director of business intelligence and development, leading teams and building software to take advantage of business opportunities. Lich holds a Bachelor in Information Management from Webster University and an MBA from Southeast.

Zisser is an account executive for Microsoft, managing a team of local and virtual resources serving Enterprise retail and CPG accounts in the St. Louis area. Prior to Microsoft, he served as a Graduate Assistant in the Center for Scholarship in Teaching and Learning at Southeast, a sales associate for Cape Bicycle Fitness and Missouri Running Company, and a sales representative for Mondelez International. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and an MBA from Southeast.

For more information on the computing station launch, contact Catapult Creative House at (573) 290-5372 or visit catapultsemo.com.

Southeast Cyber Defense Team Wins Multi-State Competition, 6th Straight State Title

For the sixth straight year, the Southeast Missouri State University Cyber Defense Team won the Missouri Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (CCDC) March 3.

Eleven Southeast students participated in the all-day virtual combined competition that brought together teams from Missouri, Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa. Southeast won top honors in the multi-state competition as well as the state championship after beating out the Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST) in Rolla, Missouri for the Missouri title.

The team now advances to the Midwest Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, also known as the Erich J. Spenger Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, March 23-24 at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois.

Southeast students competing were Lucas Kossack of Grantsburg, Illinois; Jonathan Fulling of Bloomington, Illinois; Mackenzie Bonneville of Mapleton, Illinois; BrytonHerdes of Xenia, Illinois; Ben Shell of Marble, Hill, Missouri; Jonathan “Jonny” Johnson of Rolla, Missouri; Ethan Gyori of Eureka, Missouri; and Adam Elfrink of Jackson, Missouri; The team’s alternates are Drake Fisher of Carbondale, Illinois; Andrew Banning of Salem, Illinois; Scott St. John of Wildwood, Missouri; and Stephanie Graessle of Ballwin, Missouri.

“The students did an amazing job,” said said Dr. Vijay Anand, director of Southeast’s cybersecurity program, faculty advisor to Southeast’s Cyber Defense team and associate professor of computer science.  “Their commitment to the cause and their diligence to accomplish the cause by honing their skills with practices beyond the classroom is noteworthy and commendable. I am very proud of the team, and I do think they are one of the best.

“We have competed in the Missouri CCDC for the last six six years and have won it every time,” he continued. We have accomplished it with different teams, and we have strung together the wins. This speaks to the the quality and excellence of our program that provides a process and framework to accomplish such a feat.”

The competition was designed to test each student team’s ability to secure a networked computer system while maintaining standard business functionality. The scenario involved team members simulating a group of employees from an Information Technology (IT) service company initiating administration of an IT infrastructure. The teams were expected to manage the computer network, keep it operational and prevent unauthorized access. Each team was expected to maintain and provide public services, including a website, a secure website, an email server, a database server, an online curriculum server and workstations used by simulated sales, marketing and research staff according to the company’s policy and mission. Each team started the competition with a set of identically configured systems.

Southeast now has two and a half weeks to prepare for the Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, which involves college teams from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin and another wild card team. Southeast’s Cyber Defense Team is looking for a first place finish after placing second in 2016, third in 2015 and second in 2014 at this event.

Southeast Cyber Defense Team Prepares to Defend Missouri Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition Title

Cybersecurity students on Southeast Missouri State University’s Cyber Defense Team will compete against teams from across the state March 3 in the Missouri Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition.

The students are among 10 teams from Missouri, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana vying for a spot in the 2018 Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Qualification Competition March 23 in Chicago, Illinois. State champions will be awarded for each state. Southeast has won the state title the past five years.

“It’s a virtual trench fight throughout the competition,” said Dr. Vijay Anand, director of Southeast’s cybersecurity program, faculty advisor to the Cyber Defense Team and associate professor of computer science. “They’ve spent a lot of work outside of the classroom learning, practicing for this moment.”To earn their spot, the Southeast team will have to best the field of Missouri teams in tomorrow’s half-day virtual competition, protecting a virtual company’s servers hosting emails, websites and essential networks from active virtual attack. While these attacks are occurring, the team will also have to maintain the company’s day-to-day information technology (IT) tasks and responsibilities.

The team has spent nearly 200 hours this year preparing, said Lucas Kossack, the team’s captain. That time is important for the students to develop their skills individually and to flourish as a cohesive team.

“I’m confident about our team in this year’s competition. I know we’re ready,” he said.

Southeast students competing are Kossack, of Grantsburg, Illinois; Jonathan Fulling of Bloomington, Illinois; Mackenzie Bonneville of Mapleton, Illinois; BrytonHerdes of Xenia, Illinois; Ben Shell of Marble, Hill, Missouri; Jonathan “Jonny” Johnson of Rolla, Missouri; Ethan Gyori of Eureka, Missouri; and Adam Elfrink of Jackson, Missouri; The team’s alternates are Drake Fisher of Carbondale, Illinois; Andrew Banning of Salem, Illinois; Scott St. John of Wildwood, Missouri; and Stephanie Graessle of Ballwin, Missouri.

Dr. Wang and Students Participate in February 17th Show Me Day

 Show Me Day 021718

Four students, Michael, Aaron, Andrew, Vincent and Dr. Wang participated in the Show Me Day on Feb 17th.  An AI based game was brought in for potential students to interact with. 

Top U.S. Companies Embedding Cyber-Savvy Southeast Grads


Southeast Missouri State University cybersecurity graduates are in high demand in today’s workforce and are quickly finding success among top U.S. companies dedicated to ensuring the integrity of customer data.

JoLynn Hallmark and Jeremy Wiedner hit the ground running after graduating from Southeast, using their skills to protect networks and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access.

“They reflect the culture of excellence that is embedded in the cybersecurity program here at Southeast,” said Dr. Vijay Anand, director of Southeast’s cybersecurity program and associate professor of computer science.

Hallmark, of Andover, Kansas, earned her Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity at Southeast in December 2016. She now lives in Reston, Virginia, working as a security officer at AIG. Wiedner, of Imperial, Missouri, earned his Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity in May 2014, and was a member of the first graduating class of cybersecurity majors. He now lives in Atlanta, Georgia, working as a manager for the Cyber Threat Analysis Center (CTAC) at Secureworks.

As a manager, Wiedner oversees the work of 15 frontline analysts and interacts with many of the company’s 4,300 international clients to ensure satisfaction and solve problems. He is involved with process improvement and driving change within the company to better serve clients.

Wiedner also serves as the primary recruiting manager for the CTAC, which gives him the opportunity to see the quality of employees that cybersecurity programs are producing.

“I have looked at hundreds of resumes and interviewed dozens of students from cybersecurity programs all over the country,” he said. “Since I know the value of the cybersecurity program at Southeast compared to that of other schools, I have already hired three other graduates from the program and will continue to hire more. Southeast is among the best programs out there.”

Wiedner is not alone in his thinking, as many Southeast cybersecurity alumni often return to help employers recruit graduates from the program. Anand says Southeast has become a preferred University among top companies and corporations for recruiting employees in cybersecurity and cyber defense.

“These types of companies always recruit from Ivy League universities, but they are also coming to Southeast. Our students are that good,” Anand said.

During Wiedner’s job search, many of his interviews resulted in the networking Anand did to draw attention to the new program’s students. Wiedner said he landed his position at Secureworks through his involvement with Southeast’s Cyber Defense Club.

Secureworks had a large presence at the Midwest Regional Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition, where our Cyber Defense Club was competing, and there was a career fair,” Wiedner explained. “I was recruited into Secureworks from competing.”

Hallmark said she secured her position after serving as a summer intern at AIG. Now, she monitors security devices and investigates alerts to see if true security incidents have occurred. She is also responsible for investigating phishing emails that are sent to employees, ensuring the proper measures are taken to mitigate the risk. She also worked on a side project that required design and development of workflows that the analysts use every day in a new ticketing system.

“That was a big moment, designing a whole new workflow,” Hallmark said. “That made the process more automatic and efficient.”

Constant learning and challenges have been the keys in making Hallmark’s and Wiedner’s careers in cybersecurity so appealing to them.

“I wanted a job that combined my passions and skills. It’s exciting to learn how modern technologies work and how to make them secure,” Hallmark said. “It’s fun and challenging, and I work with some great people who make coming to work every day enjoyable.”

Wiedner added, “We (Secureworks) are number one at what we do. We get to not only see where the cybersecurity industry is going but also get to help drive it as well.”

He hopes one day to become a leader in the cybersecurity industry.

“Starting as a Secureworks analyst was the best way to get there,” he said. “I received two promotions within two and a half years, and now I manage analysts for the top managed security services provider in the world.”

Both alumni credit Southeast with giving them the knowledge and skills necessary for success in their field. Both have also served as leaders of the University’s Cyber Defense Club, which has won five straight state championships and has regularly advanced to regional competitions.

“I was able to start the Cyber Defense Club, and through this opportunity, I was able to further my organizational and leadership skills,” Wiedner said. “I sought opportunities to promote the cybersecurity program, and those helped increase and grow my ability to interact with clients.”

Hallmark, who was the only female member and captain of Southeast’s 2016 Cyber Defense Team, also credits the variety of clubs offered at Southeast as key to her college achievements.

“The friends I made through Ignite student ministry helped me find success away from my job by learning what the most important parts of life are,” she said.

Hallmark advises Southeast students to get involved and set high goals.

“Live in the moment, but don’t forget why you’re there.  Know your top three priorities in life and make sure your schedule aligns with those priorities,” she said.

Wiedner encourages students to be passionate and willing to put in time learning and seeking knowledge outside of the course curriculum.

“The industry needs inquisitive individuals with strong attention to detail that are willing to learn and explore on their own,” he said.

Hallmark and Wiedner are continuing to develop goals within cybersecurity. Wiedner has recently obtained Reverse Engineering Malware certification in preparation for a possible move to the Counter Threat Unit at Secureworks. Hallmark would like to become an incident responder or a security architect.

When not protecting data, Hallmark enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking. She also coaches a little league girls’ basketball team, the Lady Unicorns.

Wiedner enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, and they also like outdoor activities, including fishing and kayaking. He does research in his home lab and spins poi, a Maori word for “ball on a string.”

Contact

573.651.2244
syenduri@semo.edu
Dempster Hall 021A
Department of Computer Science
One University Plaza, MS 5950
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701