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Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Austin Wins Department of Defense Scholarship

Published on June 24th, 2011 by Michelle Ward

Increasing the security and maintainability of computer systems has earned a University of Kansas graduate student in computer science a prestigious Department of Defense (DoD) scholarship.

Evan Austin, of Shawnee, will receive a $38,000 annual stipend, full tuition and fees, book allowance and health insurance through the Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program.

Evan Austin Austin, who will graduate with a master’s degree in computer science in August, will begin his doctorate studies in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) this fall.

"Evan has worked very hard and we’re all very proud of him," said Stuart Bell, dean of engineering. "The home-grown talent at the KU School of Engineering continues to excel at the highest levels of scholarship and research. This award is a great honor and the work he’s completing at KU will play an important role in the security of the information technology we all rely on."

SMART recipients receive paid summer internships and postgraduate employment within the DoD. The program, which aims to bring highly trained civilian scientists and engineers to Defense facilities, requires a year of employment in return for each year of scholarship.

"Beyond the generous financial benefits attached to the award, the SMART program provides years of invaluable experience at a DoD research facility," Austin said. "When I look at the incredible new professors EECS has gained over the last few years, I notice many are finding immediate success based on the contacts and confidence that they developed working at government research labs. I'm hoping that this opportunity will provide me with a similar foundation that I can build upon for success."

Current verification software does not provide sufficient automatic processing, creating a slow and cumbersome inspection process. Austin is developing formal reasoning tools that will allow researchers to build models that will evaluate the security, reliability, maintainability and other importance facets of their hardware/software design. His tools are aimed at expediting the generation of trustworthy large-scale systems, such as smart grids and telecommunication networks.

Austin conducts research at KU’s Information and Telecommunication Technology Center (ITTC) under the direction of Perry Alexander, Sharp Professor of EECS and ITTC Director.

"Evan is an exceptionally talented researcher and a wonderful member of my laboratory," Alexander said. "The SMART fellowship suits him quite well, and I believe the experience he will gain working with the DoD will benefit him greatly when he starts his academic career. This fellowship is great for Evan and great for ITTC and KU."

Austin earned an undergraduate degree with honors in computer science from KU in 2008. In 2010, he won a Paul F. Huebner Memorial Award for outstanding graduate teaching. He was the graduate teaching assistant for the C++ programming course (EECS 138).

This is the third EECS/ITTC student to receive a SMART fellowship since its creation in 2005. Alumni Jamie Jenshak and Mike Wasikowski received SMART scholarships in 2006 and 2008, respectively.