“I want to help people learn and tear down some of the walls preventing people from interacting with cyber security. You don’t need an expert in the technical details of SSL encryption to understand how to be safe online. So, I plan on going back to my hometown to talk to students about security and continue to give talks and presentations to anyone who will listen after college.”
Hometown: Mount Vernon, Iowa
Clubs and activities: President of the Information Assurance Student Group (IASG). Six cyber defense competitions (CDCs) and two national cyber defense competitions. During these competitions, I helped my team compete and organized newcomer events to get freshman and new cyber security majors to learn and become comfortable with the competition. I also helped build and competed in a yearly capture the flag competition hosted by the IASG called Sp00kyCTF.
Valuable hands-on learning experience: Summer internships at Collins Aerospace and RSM as a cybersecurity consultant let me explore real, hands-on work in the field, helping me to figure out if this would be a good fit for me in the long run. After my first internship experience, I began looking at offensive security and pen testing internships. I really enjoyed that type of cybersecurity work, which I’ll be doing after college now.
Most influential mentor: My biggest mentor was the former IASG club president Nicholas Krabbenhoft, graduate student in electrical and computer engineering. Whether Nicholas realizes it or not, he taught me a lot about respect and how to educate myself. In a field as technologically dense as cyber security, it’s important to admit when you’re wrong and acknowledge that you need to do more research. My interactions with Nicholas showed me that it’s always better to be honest and admit when you’re at the limits of your own knowledge instead of pretending to know technology that you don’t (yet) know.
Greatest accomplishment at Iowa State: I’m most proud of how much IASG has grown over the past year. I’ve met a lot of new students who want to get into cyber security but are overwhelmed, so I’ve worked to make sure IASG is their first resource for asking questions, getting career advice and anything related to cyber security. When I became president, we had only a little student engagement on Slack. Now, we run an active discord server with roughly 250 students. I’m very happy to know that this club can act as a safe space for students to explore all the different offerings for cyber security at Iowa State.
Plans for after graduation: I’m moving to Denver to start a full-time job at Google as an associate red team consultant where I’ll be performing penetration testing and helping clients understand their security posture and what they can do to continually improve as the cyber security landscape evolves.
Making my mark on the world: I want to help people learn and tear down some of the walls preventing people from interacting with cyber security. You don’t need an expert in the technical details of SSL encryption to understand how to be safe online. I want to help ordinary people engage with security and privacy more naturally. It’s a lofty goal, but I plan on going back to my hometown to talk to students about security and continue to give talks and presentations to anyone who will listen after college.
Engineering like a Cyclone Engineer: Engineering like a Cyclone means understanding the strength of the collective. We are standing on the shoulders of giants and to ignore that is not only discrediting the monumental work that came before us, but also lessens our ability to contribute to society in the future as engineers. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the time and effort of countless individuals I’ve worked alongside over the years. Cyclone Engineers are not afraid to ask for help, and they embrace the opportunity to learn from their peers.