College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Computer engineering students receive IBM PhD fellowships



Cory Kleinheksel


Ames, Iowa — For the fifth time in the past seven years, IBM has awarded PhD fellowships to Iowa State ECpE students. This year, two computer engineering PhD students—Cory Kleinheksel of Wilton, Iowa, and Joseph Idziorek of Duluth, Minn.—each have been awarded an IBM PhD Fellowship for the 2011-12 academic year. The awards come with a $20,000 stipend and $10,000 education allowance for each student.

Karl Erickson (MSEE ’98), a manager of Micro Processor Technology Development, IBM Rochester PhD Fellowship Coordinator, and an IBM Campus Relationship Manager with Iowa State, says the IBM PhD Fellowship program is extremely competitive and attracts hundreds of applications from students at universities worldwide.

Joseph Idziorek
Joseph Idziorek

“To earn two awardees from ISU is clearly an acknowledgement of the strength of the university, the College of Engineering, and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,” Erickson says.

Kleinheksel, who is specializing in data stream processing, will use the award to pursue research in the performance optimization and security of streaming data analytics.

“Challenges exist in making data stream processing scalable for the 1,000s (or millions) of streams required for future complex systems. While taking the next step in scalability, the challenges of security in data stream processing needs to be a forethought, not an afterthought,” Kleinheksel explains. “I will be working to achieve that scalability through the use of heterogeneous resources and optimization, while working to provide security in the system.”

Kleinheksel was introduced to this research challenge by his major professor, Arun K. Somani. Additionally, Kleinheksel’s 2010 summer internship at IBM in Rochester, Minn., not only provided him with practical experience, but also allowed him to make several connections with researchers and developers in industry.

“While I was at IBM, I connected with several industry PhDs and made numerous other industry contacts. One of those contacts was directly in my area of research and has invited me to work with his team this upcoming summer in 2011,” Kleinheksel says.

One of the people Kleinheksel met was Sam Ellis (BSComS ’83), program director for InfoSphere Streams Development and an IBM Campus Relationship Manager with Iowa State. Ellis, who will serve as a mentor for both Kleinheksel and Idziorek during their fellowships, says Kleinheksel’s research addresses important challenges in emerging data stream processing technology.

“From social media to machine-generated data to ‘sensors-everywhere,’ we’re in the midst of a data explosion,” Ellis says. “As the volume, variety, and velocity of information increases, organizations are challenged to effectively and efficiently distribute the right information, at the right time, to the people, processes, and applications that analyze and act upon that data. Stream processing provides a framework for analyzing this ‘data in motion,’ reducing decision time and increasing effectiveness for organizations.”

Idziorek’s award is a renewal of an IBM PhD Fellowship he received last year. He is specializing in secure and reliable computing, and his research focuses on cloud computing, which Erickson says is a strategic priority of IBM’s Smarter Planet initiative. Specifically, Idziorek’s research addresses an emerging computer security niche called Fraudulent Resource Consumption attacks.

In the cloud computing model, as he explains it, the cloud consumers forgo maintaining their own computing resources while renting services from a cloud service provider—paying for metered computing hours or bandwidth, for example. A malicious user, however, could attack the financial viability of the cloud model by “fraudulently consuming computing resources in excess of normal activity,” Idziorek says. “Attackers succeed when the cloud consumer is driven to the point that they can’t economically sustain their business in the cloud.”

Idziorek, whose major professor is University Professor Doug Jacobson (BSCpE ’80; MSEE ’82; PhDCpE ’85), already has had two conference papers accepted for publication since first receiving the fellowship. He also is grateful to the mentors and supporters he has had.

“There is a healthy and proud contingency of former ISU graduates working at IBM in Rochester and they are more than helpful at connecting interns with people at IBM that match their career ambitions,” Idziorek says. “There are numerous people who have helped me in various ways to get to the point where I could even be considered for such an award, let alone actually be awarded. There are simply too many names to list but these people know who they are and they know what they did and for that I would like to sincerely thank them.”

After graduate school, Idziorek plans to pursue a career in computer and network security. Kleinheksel hopes to obtain a faculty position at an institution that emphasizes research and teaching.