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Information Assurance Student Group: How to Turn a Club into a Valuable Learning Experience for Students

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Project-based and Cooperative Learning in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.774.1 - 25.774.15



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Paper Authors


Julie Ann Rursch Iowa State University

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Julie A. Rursch is currently is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. She will graduate with a degree in computer engineering with a focus on secure computing. Her research includes a unique approach to critical infrastructure modeling which provides emergency planners and first responders with resilient and flexible critical infrastructure evaluation in the face of non-recurrent, disruptive events. Her approach creates a new paradigm for modeling critical infrastructure sectors, analyzing real-time physical data, and providing best fit mitigations to impending failures and responses. At Iowa State University, Rursch is very involved in the IT-Adventures high school outreach program, serving as the Assistant Director since the program’s inception in 2007.

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Douglas W. Jacobson Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

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Doug Jacobson is a university P=professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. He is the Director the ISU Information Assurance Center, which has been recognized by the National Security Agency as a charter Center of Academic Excellence for Information Assurance Education. Jacobson teaches network security and information warfare and has written a textbook on network security and is completing a second book on computer security literacy. He is Director of the IT-Adventures program and oversees the cyber defense competitions hosted at ISU. His research is targeted at developing large scale attack simulation environments and is the Director of the Internet-Scale Event and Attack Generation Environment (ISEAGE) test bed project.

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Matthew Edward Sullivan Iowa State University

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Matthew Sullivan received a B.S. degree in management information systems
from Iowa State University. He is currently pursuing a M.S. degree in information assurance and computer engineering at Iowa State University. Sullivan focuses on improving security outreach and education programs through hands-on student interaction in lab and cloud-based network emulation environments.

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Information Assurance Student Group: How to Turn a Club into a ValuableLearning Experience for StudentsThe Information Assurance Student Group (IASG) in the Department of Electrical and ComputerEngineering at (name omitted) was started in 2005 as a retention and engagement effort forstudents who were interested in network and information security. However, it quickly grew intoa wholly student run organization that not only focuses on educating its own members, but alsoruns cyber defense competitions, works with corporate sponsors and recruiters, performs securityproduct testing for vendors and provides K-12 outreach programming for the university. IASGprovides weekly active, inquiry-based learning meetings for its membership which focus on thedevelopment of applied and practical security skills. IASG has not only increased the interest ofComputer Engineering students in security, but also opened the door for students in Managementand Information Sciences and Computer Science to gain hands-on experience and life skills.IASG was started by a core group of undergraduate students in Computer Engineering who wereinterested in security issues. In our curriculum at (name omitted) security is primarily a graduatetopic with M.S. and Ph.D.s focused on security being conferred. However, at the undergraduatelevel, especially the first years of foundation building in the engineering curriculum, students’interests in security are not nurtured. The club was one answer to keeping students who wantcareers in security engaged during their undergraduate career.IASG currently has a membership of over 130 students who attend twice weekly meetings whereseniors and graduate students take turns delivering content. The first meeting of the week coversadvanced topics that involve a level of understanding in security. The second meeting is forinexperienced students to focus on building block concepts in security. All meetings are acombination of lecture, demonstration, discussion and hands-on activities.IASG is also responsible for organizing and running four cyber defense competitions (CDCs) peryear for students; one each for (state omitted) high school, (state omitted) community college(two-year), (name omitted) students and four-year students from universities across the nation.In a CDC students design, configure and maintain a set of servers and a network in a securemanner prior to the competition. Then during the day long competition they work to preventsecurity breaches and to remediate any exploits that occur while maintaining a fully functionalnetwork for their end users. Support for remote setup is provided by members of IASG for themonth leading up to the competition. This is a beneficial exercise for IASG students incommunication, terminology, network design and implementation.The proposed paper will outline our experiences in best practices for retention of undergraduateComputer Engineering students, as well as the novel teaching practices that the students use intheir inquiry-based learning focused on participating in the CDCs. The paper will also addressthe faculty role in facilitating inquiry-based clubs for computer engineering students anddemonstrate how this scales from faculty directed clubs to faculty empowered student learning.It will also detail the corporate involvement necessary to fund club activities and the K-12outreach performed by club members.

Rursch, J. A., & Jacobson, D. W., & Sullivan, M. E. (2012, June), Information Assurance Student Group: How to Turn a Club into a Valuable Learning Experience for Students Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21531

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