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How do you cultivate the CREAM of the crop? Professors Kevin and Michel Kornegay speak about Morgan State’s cybersecurity prowess

A podcast interview with two SPLICE professors.

This past week, professors Kevin Kornegay and Michel Kornegay spoke with the CEO of Shift5, Josh Lospinoso, about Morgan State University’s unique approach to cultivating an environment of success in cybersecurity. Professors Kevin and Michel Kornegay are the Director and Associate Director, respectively, of Morgan State’s Cybersecurity Assurance and Policy (CAP) Center, which is home to the CREAM Lab (Center for Reverse Engineering and Assured Microelectronics of the School of Engineering).

First, it’s important to understand the necessity of cybersecurity research and implementation. New technologies with increasing capabilities enabled by wireless transmissions, data collection, and data processing, have allowed analog devices to be replaced with digital devices on the consumer level. And with consumers’ desire for new functionalities and features driving industry decisions, security protocols often fall to the wayside. But it’s all too common to hear of hacked toys, water systems being tampered with, and even our government being put at risk because of a lack of cybersecurity.

The CAP Center at Morgan State is unique in its methodology to ensure that students are adequately prepared for and provided with options in the cybersecurity realm — whether it be continuing in academia or transitioning into industry. And partnerships are part of this success. The industry partnerships that the Center has fostered have been essential to the development of the students in its programs. On the one hand, they provide industry mentorship, so that students can have hands-on experience outside of the lab. On the other hand, working with industry partners allows for a constant flow of information which keeps the research, education, and work of the program up-to-date with emerging cybersecurity threats and skills needed to stay ahead of the curve.

But the key to the program’s success? Professors Michel and Kevin Kornegay’s devotion to their students and the learning process. The importance of a “pipeline” can not be understated when it comes to encouraging students from underrepresented groups into cybersecurity. Michel has extended that pipeline to start even earlier, with a summer program specifically designed to get middle school girls in the Baltimore area interested in cybersecurity. Both Kevin and Michel speak about the hands-on experimental activities and active-learning experiences that students are immediately a part of when they enter into PhD programs in the lab. Kevin speaks about a new PhD program at Morgan State – Secure Embedded Systems – focusing on a wide variety of competencies necessary to tackle multifaceted cybersecurity issues. The unique program enables students to work with architectures, protocols, AI, and cryptography, spanning the processor, communication, and application aspects of cybersecurity. This program is so unique that it’s the only one in the state of Maryland.

As the Kornegays say in their conversation with Josh from Shift5, opportunity and preparation are both necessary for the success of their students. By working with industry partners who are on-board with their mission, the professors keep a finger on the pulse of emerging technologies, and are able to provide internship experiences and industry mentorship to their students. And the Kornegays work with their students to meet them where they’re at – recognizing that students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, so a one-size-fits all approach cannot work. And the results, seen by the achievements of their students, the growth of the CAP Center and CREAM lab, and increasing partnerships, prove the success of the Kornegays’ methods.

To hear more from their conversation, check out the video below. To get involved with supporting students in exploring cybersecurity, check out the Gen Cyber program. To learn more about the Kornegays’ work with SPLICE, check out the rest of this website.

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