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Distinguished Professor of Computer Science Gene Tsudik recently spent a month in Myanmar as part of the Fulbright Specialist Program. Sponsored by the U.S. State Department through the Fulbright Foundation, the program sends U.S. faculty and professionals to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning and related subjects at academic institutions abroad. Fulbright Specialists are highly experienced, well-established faculty members and professionals.

“My four-week Fulbright Specialist visit to Myanmar focused on helping the University of Information Technology (UIT) create a new cybersecurity curriculum,” says Tsudik. “Since Myanmar has been transitioning to democracy over the last decade or so, their universities are rapidly developing degree programs and broadening subject coverage. Cybersecurity is clearly an important part of that.”

In helping UIT revamp its undergraduate and master’s degree offerings in security and privacy to add more depth and breadth, Tsudik gave a series of lectures on advanced topics in security, privacy and cryptography, covering some of his own recent research in these areas as well. He gave more than a dozen daily lectures to faculty interested in teaching courses, and/or conducting research in, cybersecurity.

“They needed some external help in creating a more academic-oriented curriculum,” says Tsudik. “They already had some courses, but they were more practical and job-market oriented.” He advised UIT on creating security teaching modules and a set of courses with a detailed topic coverage map, suggested hours, recommended textbooks, and so on.

While at UIT, Tsudik enthusiastically advertised graduate study in the U.S., including the UC system in general and UCI, in particular. “I highlighted the many advantages of getting a U.S. graduate degree and numerous financial support opportunities — such as the Fulbright Scholar Program,” he notes.

Tsudik also attended events separate from his role as a Fulbright Specialist, including a hip-hop dance party celebrating 2019 Myanmar Cybersecurity Month. The event aimed to raise awareness about how to be safe online.

Gene Tsudik with a local Myanmar hip-hop artist at the cybersecurity awareness dance party, held at the American Center in Yangon (part of the U.S. Embassy).

More importantly, in the last days of his visit, Tsudik delivered a keynote speech, “Reconciling Security and Safety in Simple IoT Devices,” at the Third International Conference on Advanced Information Technologies (ICAIT), which took place in Yangon (capital of Myanmar). ICAIT covers research and development in the fields of advanced information technologies, so it was a natural fit for him to speak at the event while in Myanmar.

Shani Murray