ECpE grad student places second in infrastructure system conference

Vivek-Kumar Singh, a graduate student in Iowa State University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, recently placed second with a speech in an infrastructure student competition in Denver, Colorado.

The competition, known as Resilience Week, was held in August 2018. This conference is well known and well attended by large companies Singh has always looked up to, he said. Resilience Week has been held annually for over a decade, giving students to present their own research and/or ideas covering methods to make grids resilient and for students to pitch ideas for their security-infrastructure research.

While many students wrote and submitted proposals about six months before the conference, a mere six students were accepted to participate in Resilience Week. One of those students was Singh, who wrote a proposal over his research, with his project titled “Anomaly Detection for Wide-Area Protection and its Evaluation using Testbed Federation.” In Singh’s speech, he explained how scientists can double up a certain kind of testbed, collect two different testbeds and improve cyber security research.

“My talk was about showing how we can connect two different labs and save the data between each other,” Singh said. “After introducing this, I showed them the result and how we can detect cyber attacks when connecting the cyber test beds.”

Throughout his 15-minute presentation, Singh explained the accuracy and showed a demo examining how real internet traffic works and its fluctuation. Out of the six finalists in the conference, Singh placed second — and he was surprised.

“I was not expecting to win second place, but the words just flowed,” Singh said.

“After the talk, we also had a poster session in the evening,” Singh said. “The professional’s questions motivated me to improve my communication and professional skills. It was a good motivation for me to keep doing what I’m doing right now.”

While in Colorado, aside from presenting his speech and his poster, there was a conference event where members traveled to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Singh said one of the most beneficial parts of the conference may have been the networking opportunities. Aside from visiting NREL and meeting people there, he also made connections with Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and other large organizations.

“A lot of people were at the conference, really big people. I met people from the Department of Energy and a lot of big names. I was really amazed to meet them,” Singh said. “You won’t find many students at the conference, so I don’t meet people like me. I made a lot of connections from the bigger organizations.”

Singh said in the future, his dream is to work with a place where he can exercise the knowledge he has gained in the last few years as a graduate student.

“I think after three years of working in this area I know a lot of things, so I could use my knowledge and expertise to make a more secure grid,” Singh said.

After this conference, Singh is motivated to pursue companies like NREL or BNL. The personal interactions Singh had at Resilience Week may help lead him to a limitless future in cyber security.

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