Two Georgia Tech Students Chosen as 'Scholars' for RSA Conference

Atlanta  |  Mar. 30, 2018

Attending the RSA® Conference (RSAC) is a coveted, career-building, right-of-passage for professionals in the cybersecurity field, and this April, two Georgia Tech students will be honored as “RSA®C Security Scholars” among an expected crowd of 50,000 in San Francisco.

Georgia Tech was one of just 30 universities nationwide invited to send two students to RSAC, courtesy of the conference. RSAC selected universities based upon the strength of their cybersecurity programs, and students were chosen by their schools. Attending from Georgia Tech are graduate students Ishan Mehta and Taimour Wehbe.

“RSAC is [among] the top cybersecurity conferences in the country; it will be my first time attending the conference, so I am excited to learn about the different approaches to cybersecurity from researchers and practitioners,” says Mehta, who is pursuing a M.S. degree in Public Policy under the guidance of Milton Mueller, with an emphasis on Information & Communication Technology. “As a public policy major, interacting with fellow participants, most of whom are computer scientists and engineers, will give me a chance to grow my ideas and gain insight into the technical side.”

The Institute for Information Security & Privacy invited students to apply to be chosen as RSAC Scholars last fall. Students were evaluated based upon academic standing, demonstrated interest in cybersecurity, and voluntary participation in IISP learning activities, such as the weekly Cybersecurity Lecture Series and Fall Demo Day at the Georgia Tech Cyber Security Summit.

“I am so glad and eager to visit the RSA Conference 2018, and I am proud to be representing Georgia Tech as their RSAC Security Scholar,” says Wehbe, whose research under Vincent Mooney in the School of Electrical & Computer Engineering is among the first to examine the cybersecurity of medical device hardware, especially the physiological relationships between electrocardiographic (ECG) and ballistocardiographic (BCG) heart measurements to detect hardware attacks.

The Scholars will enjoy reserved seating at the opening keynote, a private lunch to discuss the state of the industry with leading experts in the field, and a private dinner with industry luminaries and thought leaders. They will also present their research at the RSAC Security Scholar Poster Board Session.

“I am eager to interact with all the sponsors at the expo and the Scholars’ reception,” says Mehta. “Most of all, I am intrigued by Microsoft’s proposal for a Digital Geneva Convention, which was presented at RSA last year. Hopefully I [can] get a chance to interact with representatives from Microsoft and exchange ideas regarding the [proposal].”

Wehbe says he is excited to hear the keynote speech by Bruce Schneier, a well-known cybersecurity blogger and chief technology officer of IBM Resilient. "I would be thrilled if I get the honor to meet and actually chat with him over lunch [or] dinner," says Wehbe, who has subscribed to Schneier's monthly newsletter, CRYPTO-GRAM

During the conference, Mehta will present his work with Milton Mueller on the social science aspect of cybersecurity attribution. Wehbe will present his research with Vincent Mooney on novel hardware-assisted techniques that help detect malicious hardware attacks and vulnerabilities inserted during microchip fabrication.

This is the second year that Georgia Tech has been invited to select students to attend the RSA Conference as RSA Security Scholars. Carter Yagemann, who attended the conference last year as an RSAC Security Scholar, recalled his unique opportunity to have dinner with Ron Rivest, a cryptographer and a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is known for his invention of the RSA algorithm, one of the first public-key cryptosystems that is widely used for secure data transmission. Yagemann also had a chance to meet with Dmitri Alperovitch, a Georgia Tech alum and co-founder of CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity technology company known for its countermeasure efforts following several high-profile cyberattacks, including that of the Democratic National Committee.

“I was able to share research ideas and get feedback from people I wouldn’t normally get to meet in a typical conference setting," says Yagemann. "It was a very unique experience.”

The most important opportunity the scholarship offers, according to Yagemann, is a chance to socialize with other students who are at a similar phase in their careers.

“These are the peers who are going to go on to lead teams in industry, teach in academia, and become influencers in government,” Yagemann says. “There are lots of opportunities at RSAC to do things together with these people so you can forge lasting relationships. I still talk to people I met at RSAC to this day, which is something I can’t say about every conference I’ve been to.”


All students are invited to participate in cybersecurity activities at Georgia Tech to help them understand facets of the problem that are applicable to their future careers. To learn more, visit