Chair’s Message | Busy Times

Oct. 29, 2021

Dear Cybersecurity and Privacy community,

We are in the final few weeks of the Fall 2021 semester and as we make our way towards finishing up our first 12 months of course offerings, things are as busy as ever. This week I wanted to give you a look at what we are doing to wrap-up the semester while laying the foundation for what comes next.

On Nov. 11, I will be meeting with the school’s Industrial Advisory Board (also known as the IAB,) to give them an update and ask for advice as we define the goals for the coming year. “But Dr. DeMillo, what is an Industrial Advisory Board- and why do we need to know about it?”

Well, most schools at Tech and all six of the colleges invite notable alumni, subject matter experts, and leaders from industry and government from around the world to help shape academic and research programs. They then offer critical advice on everything from how well we are training our students to what more we can do to distinguish a Georgia Tech education from the rest of the pack. Things always look different from the outside, and a friendly but candid group of advisors is an essential ingredient for any organization that wants to avoid groupthink and be truly innovative. There will be a lot on the table on November 11 following a year of rapid growth. We are still feeling our way as an organization, and I actively seek out more experienced voices to help inform the choices ahead of us- because we do have choices to make. For instance: 

  • How should we structure company-based internships, co-ops, and projects for all SCP students? 
  • How should we expand the reach of cybersecurity? Every new headline prompts a wave of calls and emails to SCP about embedding cybersecurity education and training into new vertical applications. 
  • What kinds of facilities (advanced security labs, ranges, and testbeds) should we be investing in? 
  • Do our programs and curricula help close the global knowledge and skills gap in cybersecurity?

The IAB will form subcommittees to work on these and related questions. I will report back to you as the subcommittees start working on helping us define our future. Maybe some of you will end up helping the IAB think through some of the difficult problems involved in educating the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. 

On other fronts:

We are still planning for a student townhall meeting. You have more than likely seen several emails, tweets and space in these messages dedicated to this upcoming townhall event. If you haven’t taken this as an invitation to join in the discussion, it’s not too late to help shape the format and agenda for the townhall. Both of which are still very open ended.

The townhall will be whatever students and faculty want to make of it. I have given plenty of my suggestions (see my Sept. 17 letter,) but in the end the success of the townhall lies in the hands of students. Even so, we have already seen a great deal of progress towards finalizing the plans for the townhall. 

Karl Grindal has been putting a lot of time to solidify details and be proactive solidifying student suggestions. Karl has helped develop a Slack channel to help solidify a reliable communication network for students and school leadership. Anyone interested in joining the Slack may do so here

Over the next few days, I am hopeful we will settle on the following:

  • A date for the townhall
  • A name (townhall is more of an event description than a proper name in my opinion)
  • Panels, speakers, forums, and topics you would like to see at the townhall

We will gather in the atrium at 2 p.m. on Friday following the weekly lecture series. 

In the coming weeks you will begin getting updates regarding a special guest coming to SCP. In mid-November our school will host the Amazon Information Security team for three days. The team will arrive on Wednesday, Nov. 17 for a “Day in the Life of Amazon” event and wrap things up on Friday with our weekly lecture series. Here is a tentative schedule of the week’s activities. 

  • November 17th – Day in the Life of Amazon
  • November 18th – Mixer with students and faculty
  • November 19th – Lecture Series, featuring one of Amazon’s Leading Security Engineers

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas with school leadership. Now that our Slack workspace is active, the discussion will be even easier to follow. 

Remember that I have reserved Coda 0962a for drop-in office hours every Wednesday afternoon (EST) from 12:30 to 1:30. There is a virtual office open at the same time. You can find the link on Slack or the SCP website. I am available to answer questions, help you navigate Georgia Tech’s mysterious bureaucracy or simply shoot the breeze on matters related to cybersecurity. 

Best wishes,

Richard DeMillo

Charlotte B. and Roger C. Warren Professor of Computing and

Chair, School of Cybersecurity and Privacy.