SPICE Pre-Collegiate Researcher Olivia Kenny Wins IEEE Poster Contest

When Olivia Kenny, a North High School Student, joined the IoT house she had no inclination a year later she would be not only presenting a poster at an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers conference, but that she would win first place in the research poster contest.  At the 3rd ACM/IEEE International Conference on Internet of Things Design and Implementation held in Orlando, Florida she did just that – best poster award.

Olivia joined the Security and Privacy in Informatics, Computing, and Engineering (SPICE) center’s Internet of Things (IoT) house in the summer of 2017 as a pre-collegiate researcher.  She spent the summer learning the findamentals of threat modeling and was assigned Fisher-Price’s Smart Bear toy as a device to explore.  Working with SPICE staff and fellow students, she both verified security fixes to known vulnerabilities and found a new security hole that allows users to take over the bear and wirelessly stream live video from the bear’s always on camera.

Olivia presented her team’s findings at multiple conferences including traveling to 2018’s Women in Cybersecurity, and helping run a workshop at 2017’s Indiana Women in Computing.  The IEEE conference was a more technically focussed symposium and acceptance of her poster came as somewhat of a shock to her.

Being a high school student working with SPICE has been an amazing experience that has given me real world experience and opportunities. When I was told that we should try to submit our work to the ACM/IEEE IOTDI Conference I was surprised. I didn’t think anyone let alone a big conference would want to see the work of a high school student. When we submitted the abstract and it was accepted that when I began to fully realize that my poster was significant in terms of its implications on the lack of security for children.

Also presenting was George Osterholdt, MS student and Cybersecurity Club advisor, who also had research that was accepted to presentation.  George’s research poster, entitled Good Advice That Just Doesn’t Help, addressed issues of best practices and evaluations of how they can be implemented.  Upon hearing that she had won, Olivia shared how the experience of winning helped cement the work she had been doing over the year.

Being at the poster session and talking to people in the field who were amazed my work and had interesting new points about it made me feel really grateful for this opportunity. When I won Best Poster I was ecstatic and shocked. I felt that even though my work was real and just as valid as the other presenters’ there I couldn’t believe that my work was considered to be the best. It was a very validating experience.

Olivia has been accepted into Ball State and will begin her college career this fall as an entering freshman in the class of 2018.  We suspect she is the only one of the entering class that is an IEEE award winner.