Chair’s Message | Plans for a Student Town Hall

Sept. 17, 2021

Dear Cybersecurity and Privacy community,

Many thanks to all the faculty and students who came to last week’s steering committee for the Student Town Hall we are planning for later in the semester. As I have mentioned a few times already, I want to focus on student involvement this year. Interest in this idea is high among graduate and undergraduate students and exceptionally high among online master’s students.  A dozen students were interested enough to volunteer to help plan for the Town Hall meeting where this will be discussed. Interestingly, student interest in cybersecurity is also high among students enrolled in a wide variety of degree programs.

We will use the Town Hall to help get the word out about SCP and where cybersecurity and privacy are heading at Georgia Tech. I thought it would be an excellent way to survey student organizations, events, and initiatives SCP should embrace and sponsor. Still, the steering committee discussion convinced me that we could use the town hall format to generate new ideas and host an open conversation about student priorities, desires, and concerns. 

Here are just some of the areas of interest that are under discussion:

  • Surveying what existing technical/professional and student government organizations have to offer
  • Developing proposals for new organizations
  • Publishing student-focused newsletters and cyber-focused jobs boards
  • Discussing whether we need new governance models for cybersecurity and privacy
  • Meeting the demand for career advising and mentoring (especially peer mentoring)
  • Launching student-managed labs and facilities
  • Events ranging from talks and mixers to demo days that appeal directly to SCP students
  • Exploring possibilities for new learning approaches for cybersecurity and privacy

It’s not too late to get involved in planning the Town Hall. The steering committee will meet again in two weeks. If you are interested in working on any of these activities or if you have ideas or experience to share about similar meetings, please let me ( or Karl Grindal ( know. One of us will get back to you soon.

In other news, the 2022 U.S. News and World Report Best College rankings has once again recognized our school as one of the best in the nation. The Georgia Tech School of Cyber Security and Privacy tied with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the No. 2 spot in the Cybersecurity category. We were edged out this year by Carnegie Mellon University for the No. 1 ranking this year.

Our faculty and staff have been able to navigate the past year with tremendous perseverance. During normal circumstances, getting a brand-new school off the ground would be challenging, yet we have done it during a time of massive global disruptions. 

I am not a big fan of national rankings.  It’s nice to be recognized, but the real value of SCP will be realized by the opportunity it gives to students entering this exciting field. We have a long road ahead of us as we continue to work on and meet the aspirations we have set for ourselves. We are working hard behind the scenes to engage students in every area we can think of. I am looking forward to our Town Hall, and I am eager to hear from you.

Finally, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) released the list of research papers that have been accepted to November’s Conference on Computer and Communications Security. Among the papers accepted from submissions around the world, eight were co-written by SCP faculty and will be presented at the virtual conference. Congratulations to Brendan Saltaformaggio, Frank Li, Mustaque Ahamad, Taesoo Kim, and Wenke Lee on this accomplishment. 


Richard DeMillo

Chair, School of Cybersecurity and Privacy

Charlotte B. And Roger C. Warren Chair of Computing

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Follow me @rad_atl and @richde