SET Students Addressing National Security Challenges

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Ken Lew and Chris Yin each were on project design teams that did well in a hackathon sponsored by the National Security Innovation Network.

The challenge for participants in the NSIN hackathon was to "develop concepts, technologies, or systems to help human-controlled and autonomous vehicles operate through cyber-attacks or other instances of electronic warfare, and return to a known good state with or without human intervention."

Two students in UW Tacoma’s School of Engineering & Technology were each involved with project teams that did well at Mad Hacks: Fury Code, a virtual hackathon hosted by the National Security Innovation Network in February.

Ken Lew, UW Tacoma graduate student in cybersecurity and leadership. Image from LinkedIn.Ken Lew, a graduate student in SET’s Master of Cybersecurity & Leadership program, was part of a project team that called themselves Base8. Their concept is to provide secure vehicle-to-vehicle communications in the military setting, using blockchain and quantum key distribution with emerging communications technologies.

Base8 was one of four teams to win the hackathon and received $15,000 to continue developing their idea.

Chris Yin, an undergraduate Information Technology major, was part of a team called TM Pack. They developed technology to address the problem of disabled, malfunctioning or otherwise compromised autonomous military vehicles. The malfunctioning vehicle would be, in essence, rebooted into a “safe” mode and ordered to return to a collection point, or recovered by another drone, or collected through human intervention.

Although TM Pack wasn’t one of the winning teams, it received special attention from the U.S. Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, which has requested a briefing on the team’s proposal.

Chris Yin, UW Tacoma undergraduate student in information technology. Image from LinkedIn.Each team was formed in the moment as members met each other during the hackathon. Base8 also includes a student from the UW Department of Computer Science & Engineering (Seattle campus) and students from San Diego State University. TM Pack includes a computer science student from the UW in Seattle as well as students from the Naval Postgraduate School.

The National Security Innovation Network is a U.S. Department of Defense program office charged with reinvigorating innovation within DoD by tapping into the creative talents and ideas of students, entrepreneurs, startups and academics around the country. UW’s CoMotion office hosts the NSIN UW Program Director, Justin Dunnicliff. More information about Mad Hacks: Fury Code and a sign-up to receive information about upcoming NSIN hackathons is here.

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / April 29, 2021
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or