College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Aidan Sherburne: Outstanding senior in cyber security engineering

Iowa State University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

: Cyber Security Engineering

Hometown: Cottage Grove, Minnesota

Clubs and activities: The Information Assurance Student Group (IASG) and various cyber defense competitions

Awards and honors: The Memorial Endowment for Leslie Miller Wallace Jr. scholarship, the ISU Academic Recognition Award, and the College of Engineering Dean’s List

Who was your most influential mentor while at Iowa State?
I think that my most influential professor at ISU was Julie Rursch, associate teaching professor of electrical and computer engineering. She was always willing to help answer my questions, even if they were only tangentially related to class. She and my academic adviser, Leah Eilers, inspired me to change majors from computer engineering to cyber security engineering, and I’m so glad I made that choice.

What would you consider your greatest accomplishments at ISU?
I am proud to be among the first students to graduate under the new cyber security engineering major!

What’s your advice for first-year students just starting at Iowa State engineering students?
Don’t give up. Engineering can be challenging. When you find a topic that you struggle with, and you certainly will, don’t be afraid to ask your professors and TAs for help. They want you to succeed and are more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time I enjoy playing video games, reading about and experimenting with new cyber security vulnerabilities, participating in cyber security competitions, hiking and longboarding. I’ve also recently taken up the hobby of genealogy, and I can trace back parts of my family tree almost 700 years!

What’s one lesson you’re taking away from this challenging pandemic year?
One of the most important skills you learn in the College of Engineering is how to problem solve and how to think about problems in different ways. This past year has brought with it a wide variety of new and difficult problems. I have learned that the problem-solving skills I have developed over the last four years are not only applicable to technical problems but to situational problems such as those induced by the pandemic. So, if there’s one thing I will take away from all of this, it is that perseverance and community will always overcome adversity.

What are your plans for after graduation?
I have a cyber security and privacy consulting career lined up in the Twin Cities, and on the side I am working on a cybersecurity project that I hope to eventually spin into my own business.