News 2020: Engineering students on the front line of systems security
Engineering students on the front line of systems security

Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering students benefit from Lance Fiondella’s array of research awards

Students speaking with a professor

Lance Fiondella’s three software-intensive research projects keep sixteen graduate and undergraduate students working at a steady clip. Because the Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering is supported by a wide variety of sponsors interested in maintaining safe and resilient systems, he can offer students a range of research, internship, and employment opportunities. A prolific researcher and writer, Fiondella has won $1.5 million in research funding from the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, the Army Research Laboratory, and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). His 120 peer-reviewed journal articles and conference papers are testimony to his research productivity.

Dr. Fiondella’s principal project, funded by a $450,000 NSF CAREER award, will develop an open source tool to allow software engineers to automatically apply software reliability models, so applications they develop can operate free of failures and can be completed on time and within budget. Beyond reliability are further concerns of security to detect malware, electronic theft, and fraud, which are growing in step with people’s dependence on software-enabled systems and services.

Fiondella also operates in a wider context to develop an open source software platform to promote collaboration within the global software reliability research community as well as to communicate cutting edge techniques to software practitioners. The goal is a common platform, where participants can implement results, hybridize modeling, and conduct algorithmic research.

To be sure his tools are relevant, Fiondella has worked as a Visiting Researcher at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD and as a Summer Faculty Fellow in the Office of Naval Research in the Reliability and Maintainability Division at NAVAIR. Fiondella never waits for an agency to put out a request for proposals. “I regularly engage with government and industry stakeholders to ensure my research is relevant to national needs.” Whenever possible, Fiondella brings his students with him to mentor them on research development. “When there is a demand for solutions, I can’t complete research projects quickly enough unless I engage well-prepared students.”

Computer science major Christian Ellis '19 said, "Dr. Fiondella’s mentorship opened my eyes that I could achieve anything. His commitment to students and technical rigor shined through while co-authoring a paper to present my undergraduate research at a Homeland Security conference my junior year. His diverse network provides students with countless valuable internship opportunities."