Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UTSA doctoral student’s internships key to solving cyber issues

UTSA doctoral student’s internships key to solving cyber issues

UTSA doctoral student Aura Teasley recently completed an internship with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

NOVEMBER 18, 2022 — Aura Teasley began her first semester as a UTSA electrical engineering doctoral student after completing three internships. She completed two computer engineering internships with the Air Force Civilian Service in Maryland and Oklahoma while pursuing her M.S. in Electrical Engineering at UTSA.

After graduating with her master’s degree this past May, she completed a third internship with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, where she assessed accelerating cyber assault tests on critical infrastructure systems and participated in capture-the-flag events.

“After every internship experience, it’s important to bring back the skills and knowledge I acquired and share it with my UTSA peers,” she said. “Internships are the largest talent pipeline for full-time employment, so it’s vital for students to understand that.”

“After every internship experience, it’s important to bring back the skills and knowledge I acquired and share it with my UTSA peers.”

Teasley developed a diverse and marketable skillset through her internships to prepare for a career in cyber defense. During her internship at Fort Meade, Maryland, she learned programming languages to provide actionable insights. As an intern in Oklahoma City, she gained an understanding of principles of network security and communication models. She’s also made friends from across the country.

The UTSA doctoral student currently conducts research at the UTSA Open Cloud Institute, an initiative to foster collaboration with industry leaders in cloud computing and data analytics. Working under the guidance of executive director and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering Jeff Prevost, Teasley and other graduate students conduct independent research projects and work collaboratively to assess challenges and achievements in their processes.

“My favorite part about research is working with students to uncover breakthroughs others have not explored before,” Teasley added. “I encourage students to pursue research because it allows you to take classroom concepts and find practical applications. You gain knowledge about topics not covered by your curriculum.”

Teasley’s decision to study electrical engineering was driven by her determination to create innovative solutions to real-world issues including cybersecurity blind spots. Studying electrical engineering was the right fit to accomplish that. It opened the door for Teasley to learn cybersecurity concepts. Today, she aspires to build secure devices that can withstand cyber-attacks and manipulation.

To prepare for her career, Teasley is using existing cyberthreat information to identify gaps in defense with funding from Sandia National Laboratories.

“Aura impressed me with her performance as an undergraduate. Since then, she has volunteered and excelled in my lab as a research assistant, successfully leading a grant program with Sandia National Labs,” Prevost said. “Her ability to quickly learn new concepts is truly gifted.”

Ultimately, Teasley hopes to work for the federal government and “add to the pool of professionals dedicated to keeping the nation safe.” Self-described as shy, her internships, research projects and on-campus involvement increased her confidence and prepared her to excel in the workforce after she completes her doctoral program.

“I’m grateful for the mentorship from my faculty advisor, Dr. Prevost. He is largely to thank for the opportunities I’ve received,” Teasley explained. “The biggest lessons I’ve learned from him are to take control in the lab and be fearless. The resiliency and critical thinking skills I’ve gained have helped me become comfortable with research.”

Learn more about UTSA’s graduate programs in electrical engineering.
Explore other degree plans available in the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design.

Some of the UTSA resources that were instrumental to Teasley’s success include resume reviews, internship leads and research opportunities she learned about from professors and the University Career Center.

Teasley’s advice for her fellow Roadrunners: “Use your resources and connect with the supportive faculty and staff at the university. Don't become intimidated by your goals, and break out of your comfort zone. I took chances that led me to experiences that I never expected.”

Giselle Villalpando

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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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