Cybersecurity event @CSUCI on April 20, 2018

On the evening of April 20, 2018 Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin and CSU Channel Islands president Erica D. Beck co-hosted a Cybersecurity event  in Sierra Hall, promoting regional industry partnerships. At this event we had the opportunity to showcase our work – three masters students and one senior student presented research under my supervision:

Zane Gittins spoke about his network penetration testing at HAAS: this work started as a Hank Lacayo Internship at HAAS in the fall of 2017, but since then Zane has been hired by HAAS to continue his work.

Eric Gentry spoke about the SEAKER project, a digital forensic tool that was developed with and for the High Technology Task Force (HTTF) at the Ventura forensic lab. We presented this tool at an event on August 7, 2017.

Geetanjali Agarwal spoke about the Image Recognition project, also inspired by the work done at the HTTF at the Ventura lab, where we aim to identify images from partially recovered files and compare them to a bank of images using the difference hash technique.

Ryan McIntyre presented his work on algorithms in bio-informatics. These results have been published recently in the Journal of Discrete Algorithms, and described in a blog post on March 6, 2018.

Here are the presentation slides.

I introduced the students making some remarks elaborating on president Beck’s statement about partnerships between CI and the Ventura industry. As a CI faculty, I find interdependence in the triad of Scholarship, Teaching and Industry relations. Many of our projects start by addressing a Research & Development need of the community, such as the SEAKER tool for HTTF. We use it to teach our students a hands-on approach to problem solving in Computer Science; we aim to produce quality work that advances knowledge and is publishable.

Scholarship, the first component of the triad, is really composed of three simultaneous activities: the research itself, which is laborious, time consuming, consisting of literature review and the cycle of hypothesis, testing and proving.

The funding component: labs, equipment, salaries, conferences, all these require funds, which can be secured through grants, philanthropic gifts or state support.

And finally dissemination, which is crucial as without it no one is aware of our work, and which takes place through publishing, conference presentations, blog writing, and events such as the one described in this blog. At CI we are lucky in that Advancement facilitates both fundraising and dissemination.

Great Comp Sci talk by Adrian Domanico from Facebook

On March 27, 2018, we had a great talk in Computer Science by Adrian Domanico, from Facebook, on being a Software Engineering in the industry, both at small startups and at large companies such as Facebook.

From the abstract of the talk:  Is working as a software engineer just spewing code into an editor? Being an effective software engineer is so much more. It requires careful consideration of other domains outside of pure engineering. We will dive into what it means to be an effective software engineer in a start-up/tech company and how to build real value (with code of course!).

Building an iOS client that scales well to hundreds (thousands?!) of contributors and millions of users is not an easy task. We will dive into some of the common patterns & anti-patterns used to build a well designed iOS application. We will also discuss some of the tools we use at Facebook to accomplish this and make our codebase more maintainable.

Adrian Domanico is an iOS Software Engineer currently working on Messenger and he is passionate about all things iOS and mobile.

National Engineers Week Banquet @CSUCI

It was a great pleasure to Emcee the National Engineers Week of Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties banquet at CSU Channel Islands (CI). This was the 45th annual engineering week dinner, and the second year (in a row) that it took place at CI.

Thank you to my colleagues Jason Isaacs and Houman Dallali, and their students Adan Sanchez, Alexandra Collette and Nicole Dubin for a display of the student engineering projects at CI. We were delighted to announce that we are welcoming the first cohort of Mechatronics students in the fall of this year (2018). It was especially appropriate to welcome engineers from the local businesses and the local Navy bases at CI, as we pursue three interdependent missions:

  • Scholarship
  • Teaching
  • Engagement in the community

The pièce de résistance event of the evening was a keynote address by  Dr. Adam Steltzner, NASA Engineer with Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Dr. Steltzer is a renowned engineer who led the team responsible for the Curiosity Rover’s successful landing on Mars (the EDL: Entry, Descent, Landing system); the famous 7 Minutes of Terror. Last year Dr. Steltzer was named to the National Academy of Engineering.

It was a great honor to meet Dr. Steltzer and listen to a first hand account of the mission.

Why is it called the 7 Minutes of Terror? In just seven minutes, NASA’s six-wheeled rover called Curiosity, must go from 13,000 mph as it enters the Martian atmosphere to a dead stop on the surface.

During those seven minutes, the rover is on its own. Earth is too far away for radio signals to make it to Mars in time for ground controllers to do anything. Everything in the EDL system must work perfectly, or Curiosity will not so much land as go splat. The team that invented the EDL system, led by Dr. Steltzer, has spent nearly 10 years perfecting it.

Speaking at the Camarillo Chamber of Commerce

my remarks

  • Thank you for the opportunity to tell you about Computer Science at CI
  • We are a fast growing Dept we doubled our majors to 400 in the last 3 years
  • We are starting a new engineering program in Mechatronics (Mechanical & Engineering) this fall after years of preparation.
  • We have a program in IT, one Computer Science, and the new Mechatronics program. Also programs in Cybersecurity, robotics, and Game design.
  • We work with the local community: with IT & Manufacturing companies, with Navy, HTTF, and we started an Advisory Board consisting of heads of local business & industry.
  • To give you an idea about our work, I will talk about 3 directions, but there are many more:
    • Houman Dallali Mechatronics he was the first targeted Mechatronics hire, and he works in intelligent prosthetics. Cheap Controllers (Raspberry Pi’s) and 3D printers have revolutionized our field, but ours is still an expensive endeavor and we rely on the community for example, companies such as Advanced Motion or Amgen have given us equipment.
    • Jason Isaacs Swarmathon Jason has a PhD in engineering from UCSB, like most of our faculty has years of industrial experience, but loves the University setting and has come back. NASA wants to go to Mars, and Jason and his student are participating in one aspect of that endeavor: a swarm of robots that will be released on Mars to collect raw components to make fuel for the journey back home. We took 3rd place at the competition at Cape Canaveral in Florida in 2017.
    • I work in Algorithms generally speaking, they are the snippets of ideas that become code that run your computers. But I also work, and consult, in Cybersecurity, and we have an ongoing collaboration with HTTF. Set up by the Secret Service and the FBI to aid local law enforcement in dealing with the sophisticated digital crime, they have a lab in Camarillo, at a secret location, and our students have worked on several R&D projects for them, for example SEAKER last summer.
  • Today I have brought two students with me Vlad Synnes and Samuel Decanio who will tell you a little bit about themselves, and a little bit about Voyager” a project that we did for the HTTF.

I will be giving a talk on Cybersecurity for small businesses on December 8

Detective Kimo Hildreth and I will be giving a talk at a breakfast event on Cybersecurity for Small Businesses on Friday December 8, 2017, at 8:30am. To RSVP and view more event details click here. The event is organized by  Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, and it will take place at 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd, in the “Oak and Park Room”.


OLLI talk on Cybersecurity June 8 at 10:00am

Michael Soltys OLLI talk on Cybersecurity
June 8, 10:00am-12:00pm.
In Broome Library 2325

Title: Best practices for staying safe on the Internet

Abstract: The Internet enables us to do wonderful things: stay connected with family and friends (e.g., Skype), shop from the comfort of our home (e.g., Amazon), watch movies at the time of our choosing and without commercials (e.g., Netflix), and check news headlines personalized to our interests and tastes (e.g., Twitter). But all this comes with a slew of threats and dangers: like the highwaymen of old, hackers prey on vulnerable victims, without having to leave their house, and covered by a blanket of anonymity. This talk will present best practices to stay safe on the Internet, enjoy its benefits, and reduce its risks.

I will also discuss the recent OAuthy and WannaCry attacks.

See here for signing up for OLLI classes.