Longitudinal Injection of Interdisciplinary Cybersecurity Awareness into Engineering Curricula

This research project is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant #1723814.
National Science Foundation



Shamik Sengupta

Principal Investigator
Executive Director, UNR Cybersecurity Center

Nancy LaTourrette

Co-Principal Investigator
Deputy Director, UNR Cybersecurity Center

Jacque Ewing-Taylor

College of Education

Hanif Livani

Senior Personnel
Electrical Engineering

Yantao Shen

Senior Personnel
Biomedical Engineering

Hao Xu

Senior Personnel
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Ann-Marie Vollstedt

Senior Personnel
College of Engineering

Yiliang (Leon) Liao

Senior Personnel
Mechanical Engineering

Mehmet Gunes

Former Co-Principal Investigator
Computer Science and Engineering


Upcoming smart technologies such as Smart Cities, Internet of Things, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles digitize current technologies and require cybersecurity-aware multi-disciplinary engineering experts to ensure the security of such devices. As devices become smart and interconnected to provide improved services, they also become greater targets of cyber-attacks. Ensuring proper operation of smart technologies requires well-trained, proactive engineers, who are knowledgeable on core engineering principles, cybersecurity risks associated with their designs, and risks from other interconnected disciplines. The goal of this collaborative project is to develop and adopt interdisciplinary cybersecurity curriculum by fostering a holistic approach through collaboration across engineering disciplines. By bringing scholars from different engineering disciplines, this project explores unique ways to engage students in interdisciplinary cybersecurity-aware engineering education.

Learn More about Knowledge Units NSF Award Page

Principal Investigator: Dr. Shamik Sengupta
Project Duration: September 1, 2017 - August 31, 2020

Contact Us
1664 N Virginia St, Reno, NV 89557


  • Tapadhir Das, Shamik Sengupta, "Journey Through Time: Evolution of Wireless Networks from 2G towards 6G", (Submitted), IEEE Communications Magazine, 2020.
  • Raj Shukla, and S. Sengupta, "Scalable and Robust Outlier Detector using Hierarchical Clustering and Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) Neural Network for Internet of Things", (Accepted). Elsevier Internet of Things: Engineering Cyber Physical Human Systems, vol. 9, 2020.
  • Tapadhir Das, AbdelRahman Eldosouky, S. Sengupta, "Think Smart, Play Dumb: A Game-Theoretic Approach to Study Deception in Hardware Trojan Testing", (Accepted). In Cyber Science 2020.
  • Mohammad Jafari, Vahid Sarfi, Amir Ghasemkhani, Hanif Livani, Lei Yang, Hao Xu, "Adaptive Intelligent Secondary Control of Microgrids Using a Biologically-Inspired Reinforcement Learning", (Accepted). In Proceedings of IEEE Power & Energy Society General Meeting (PESGM), 2019.
  • Vahid Sarfi, Amir Ghasemkhani, Iman Niazazari, Hanif Livani, and Lei Yang, "Decentralized Dynamic State Estimation with Bimodal Gaussian Mixture Measurement Noise," (Accepted). In Proceedings of North American Power Symposium (NAPS) 2019.
  • Watson Jia, Raj Mani Shukla and S. Sengupta, "Anomaly Detection using Supervised Learning and Multiple robust Statistical Methods", (Accepted). Special topics on Machine and Deep Learning in Cyber Security and Privacy Issues, IEEE International Conference on Machine Learning and Applications, ICMLA-2019.
  • Amar Nath Patra, Paulo Alexandre Regis, and S. Sengupta, "Distributed Allocation and Dynamic Reassignment of Channels in UAV Networks for Wireless Coverage", (Accepted). In Elsevier Pervasive and Mobile Computing, vol. 54, pp. 58-70, 2019.
  • Amar Nath Patra, Paulo Alexandre Regis, and S. Sengupta, "Dynamic Self-Reconfiguration of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Serve Overloaded Hotspot Cells", (Accepted). In Elsevier Computer and Electrical Engineering, vol. 75, pp. 77-89, 2019.
  • Alisha Thapaliya, James Schnebly, and Shamik Sengupta, "Predicting Congestion Level in Wireless Networks Using an Integrated Approach of Supervised and Unsupervised Learning", (Accepted). (Accepted). In Proceedings of IEEE UEMCON, 2018.
  • Raj Mani Shukla and Shamik Sengupta, "Analysis and detection of anomaly due to data falsification attack in traffic prediction system", (Accepted). In Proceedings of IEEE UEMCON, 2018.

Cybersecurity Knowledge Units into Engineering Curricula

The knowledge units developed at the University of Nevada, Reno as part of this project can be incorporated into a variety of engineering courses across the nation. Each unit can be adapted to one or multiple class meetings and include presentation slides, instructor notes, activities, assessments and assessment keys. To request access to these materials, contact the Principal Investigator of this project.

Cybersecurity into E-FIT and ENGR100
  • Stage One: Cybersecurity in Engineering FIT
Stage One - Engineering FIT: Short for "Freshman Intensive Transition", E-FIT is a five-day academic program designed to increase success for incoming engineering students. The program offers a glimpse into the University’s rigorous academic expectations and college life prior to the start of the semester. UNR is the first university to translate the academic boot camp to majors beyond the sciences including engineering. In addition to experiencing the rigors of academic life, E-FIT also helps students navigate campus and encourages team building. Developing and implementing cybersecurity activities for all E-FIT students initiate cybersecurity-aware students literally from "day one".
  • Stage Two: Cybersecurity in Engineering 100
Stage Two - Freshman Experience Course: The College of Engineering at UNR requires engineering majors to enroll in Introduction to Engineering Design (ENGR 100). The overall goal of the course is to inform students about the various aspects of the engineering design process, professionalism, ethics, and how engineering affects global context. The course has a semester-long team design project: the development of a low cost hovercraft. During the design and implementation of the hovercraft project engineering concepts from multiple engineering disciplines are included: sensors and controls (electrical engineering); batteries and fans (mechanical and chemical engineering); and traffic control (civil engineering). This knowledge unit, Cybersecurity in Hovercraft Design, informs students, early in their academic career, on cybersecurity awareness in engineering designs. This stage two knowledge unit reinforces their cybersecurity awareness obtained through the E-FIT knowledge unit. It also starts the process of injecting cybersecurity concepts into technical engineering design. At the end of Stage Two, students gain:
  1. ample exposure to cybersecurity concepts;
  2. an understanding of the interconnection between engineering design and cybersecurity; and
  3. awareness of cybersecurity concepts applied to specific engineering devices and design such as sensors, controls, batteries, and traffic control.

Smart City Cybersecurity
  • Cybersecurity in Smart Grid
This knowledge unit explores relevant cybersecurity materials to cover a variety of topics that are essential to understanding the Smart Grid and then further to work towards securing and protecting it. Topics include (i) introduction to cyberattacks in energy infrastructure, (ii) cyberattacks types and complexities, (iii) defense strategies for Smart Grid components, interconnected systems and control centers.
  • Cybersecurity in Intelligent Transport
This knowledge unit introduces the concept of interconnected transportation-electricity infrastructure systems and the necessary tools to design and operate such infrastructure system subject to cybersecurity threats.
  • Public Safety and Security
This knowledge unit explores the concept of cybersecurity in public safety and critical infrastructures through (i) risk identification; (ii) vulnerability reduction; (iii) threat reduction and (iv) consequence mitigation.
Cybersecurity in The Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Cybersecurity in the Medical/Wearable Devices in IoT
This knowledge unit includes the new factors in design criteria of medical instruments, called security factors, the factors consist of sensing data security-sensitivity, user interface authentication, anti-interference electronic design, data transmission encryption, power source protection and filtering, and new web service architecture with secure protocol.
  • IoT cybersecurity through Secure Cybermanufacturing
This knowledge unit is designed to educate students on cybersecurity in cybermanufacturing. Topics include: (i) introduction to cyber manufacturing system; (ii) cybersecurity in cyber manufacturing system; (iii) introduction to general methods of the network attacks; (iv) methods for safeguarding the cybersecurity of cyber manufacturing system elements; and (v) cybersecurity-aware cyber manufacturing system design.
  • Vulnerability in Wireless Communications
This knowledge unit addresses the wireless medium related vulnerabilities and exploits and how such vulnerabilities can be mitigated.
Cybersecurity in UAV Engineering
  • Understanding the Embedded Sensors
This knowledge unit introduces the students to the security issues in embedded sensors, protocols and procedures for securing against different kinds of attacks on these sensors.
  • Cybersecurity of Civilian Air Traffic Systems
Through this knowledge unit, students have a first-hand experience on various cybersecurity factors in the transformation systems management such as: safety assessment and management of risks, traffic flow management, human interaction with technology and its consequences, and traffic procedure design in the middle of a cyber attack.