Ethical Hacks, Robot Arms, and CubeSats
College of Engineering & Computer Science students are making a name for themselves by winning cybersecurity competitions, building robots for blind veterans, and fighting wildfires from space.
Building a Robotic Arm to Assist Visually Impaired Veterans
For the visually impaired, completing routine tasks may not be easy. Technology researchers Kiran George, professor of computer engineering and director of the Bio-Electric Signal Lab, and Anand Panangadan, assistant professor of computer science – along with their students – have found a way to help. Funded by a nearly $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, they are aiming to develop a low-cost, voice-controlled robotic arm to assist visually impaired veterans in performing routine daily activities like opening doors or retrieving items from the refrigerator. The project’s goal is to use assistive technology to improve the veterans’ quality of life. At the conclusion of the 14-month project, which began in the fall of 2020, the faculty-student team plans to have a functional prototype of a “Robotic Aid System.”
Student Team Goes to National Hacking Finals
With the rising threat of hacking by foreign governments and other bad actors, America’s vital infrastructure is vulnerable to cyberattacks. One way to meet these challenges is to prepare students interested in cybersecurity for potential careers through collegiate competitions that focus on system penetration testing, simulating cyberattacks to expose vulnerabilities. Led by alumnus Hernan Manabat, a lecturer in computer science, and Mikhail Gofman, associate professor of computer science and director of CSUF’s Center for Cybersecurity, a team of computer science majors successfully hacked a fictional water and power plant in nine hours. Their success qualified them for one of 15 spots in the 2021 National Collegiate Penetration Testing Competition, where they faced off against universities from around the world.
Fire-Detecting Satellite Team Leader Awarded Sally Casanova Scholarship
As wildfires continue to cause destruction in California and other West Coast states, a team of students is exploring a solution – a cube-shaped, miniaturized satellite, or “CubeSat,” that can observe Earth from space to predict and detect fires. Senior Patrick Babb, a mechanical engineering major and project leader, was one of nine students from across the University awarded a $3,000 Sally Casanova Scholarship, which offers students from underrepresented populations opportunities to explore and prepare to succeed in doctoral programs. Babb received the scholarship after participating in the McNair Scholars Program, a U.S. Department of Education-funded program honoring Ronald E. McNair, a Challenger astronaut and physicist, which also assists underrepresented, first-generation, and low-income students. As part of the program, Babb was a 2019 summer intern at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley and led the initial stages of an agreement with the University to launch a cube satellite into space in the future.