Two Computer Science Students Present Their Summer Research

compsciphotoTwo Lewis University Computer Science students presented research they did this summer as part of the university’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE). Ian Ziarko of Mokena presented a project entitled “Secure Exchange of Intrusion Detection Data among Coordinating Groups”. Ryan Jessen of New Lenox presented a project entitled “Using Your Phone as an I-Pass Replacement”.

Ian’s work was guided by Dr. Ray Klump, Professor and Chair of Mathematics and Computer Science and Director of the Master of Science in Information Security Program. Ian designed and implemented a distributed intrusion detection system which groups of organizations that share a common mission could use to alert each other to nefarious network activity. For example, electric utilities share a mission to keep our lights on. If a cyber attack befalls one of them, it would be nice if the other utilities could be alerted in real time that a problem has occurred elsewhere that may end up impacting them. With this advance warning, the other utilities can set up firewall rules to block the kind of traffic that compromised their peer. The result is that the problem becomes contained rather than spreading across the entire electrical grid. The impact of the cyber attack is greatly minimized.

Ryan was mentored by Dr. Cindy Kersey, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science. Ryan developed an Android app called L-Pass that could serve as a viable replacement for the I-Pass and other toll transponders. His app uses GPS coordinates to determine when the owner has passed another toll. The toll is then automatically deducted from the person’s L-Pass account. The idea for this app came from Rick Hammer, Track and Field coach at Lewis, who thought of it as he took an interstate trip with his players and noted that each state used a different kind of transponder for tracking tolls. If tolls could be managed using a smart phone instead, however, out-of-state drivers could more easily pay them and avoid causing traffic jams at the manual booths. Ryan’s app proved that this concept would work. He tested it on the Illinois tollway and on a simulated tollway he mapped out on the Lewis campus.

The opportunity to do undergraduate research is a major benefit to studying a science at Lewis. Students in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Math, and Physics can work with faculty mentors to pursue potentially impactful real-world projects. Because of Lewis’ student-centered focus, the faculty are very involved and hands-on, and the quality of guidance students receive from their faculty partners is very high. Since this is cutting-edge research, both students and faculty gain new knowledge as they work together on these projects, which just adds to the fun.

Congratulations to Ian and Ryan for their exemplary work this summer!


About Ray Klump

Associate Dean, College of Aviation, Science, and Technology at Lewis University Director, Master of Science in Information Security Lewis University,, You can find him on Google+.

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