UM-Dearborn’s ‘Blue Bytes’ helping students build cybersecurity skills

By | August 10, 2020
(Graphic of three people, the one in the middle turned with their back to the camera, interspersed with graphics of a phone, a laptop, and a few keyboard keys.)
(Violet Dashi)

Assistant professor of computer science Birhanu Eshete says he didn’t know what kind of response he’d get when fellow professor Di Ma asked if he’d try to get a student organization going to support their burgeoning cybersecurity program. So he started simple, sending out an email inquiry to gauge if there was any interest. Within a couple hours, he had seven responses from cybersecurity majors. In another week or so, Blue Bytes, UM-Dearborn’s first cybersecurity-focused student club, was officially a thing.

For Eshete, it’s all pretty satisfying to watch the students build-up their skills and coalesce so quickly into a tight-knit group. “It may sound surprising, but I also learn a lot from them,” Eshete says. “In our field, it’s hard to keep track of new developments because cybersecurity is such a dynamic discipline. So the students may have exposure to techniques that I have never tried before, and in those cases, they teach me. That’s a very good thing to do for any professor. You can teach as much as you know, based on your experience. But you’re always learning — including from your students.”