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DSU 2022 student exchange program blends AI and cybersecurity

Friday, July 22, 2022

Five students are participating in the new international artificial intelligence (AI) cyber consortium. They are a part of an exchange program spending four weeks in Gothenburg, Sweden and four weeks in Madison, South Dakota.

Two people sitting outdoor by a table discussing

The five students are in the middle of their industrial immersion program, having just completed their four weeks in Gothenburg, Sweden. When we spoke to them they were enjoying their exchange in South Dakota, USA.

What are they working on?

The team is researching federated learning models and the intersection with cybersecurity. The goal is to discover a solution to detect and prevent poisoned nodes from impacting a federated learning model.
The team at AI Sweden supported them in the beginning with expertise and resources on AI models. Now the team in the USA is providing help on cybersecurity. The timing has worked out perfectly for the project’s structure.
The solution they are pursuing will be widely applicable. Jason Mixon told us, “we’re not focusing on a specific industry. We’re generalizing our implementation, but the industry we had the most conversations with was the automotive.”

“Meeting the partners was very cool because they’re big names you’ve heard of all your life and you get to have meetings… I still feel a bit starstruck..” – Madeleine Englund, Umeå University

How did they get started?

Diving straight into orientation week at AI Sweden in Gothenburg, the students had lots of time with the partners and our team. “I loved it, I think it gave us a challenge to dig into federated learning and understand the topic. All the meetings and presentations from the partners really helped,” said Viktor Valadi. “I think it influenced us a lot.”
They started to work together as a team to brainstorm potential topics. With feedback from partners, they narrowed it down to one which had great potential, matched the scope of the exchange program and was feasible in the two month timeframe.

The team will first present their findings to AI Sweden and partner organizations, then to industry partners. There is an opportunity to extend the research past the initial two months and partners will get to take advantage of the results. We’re looking forward to seeing partners implement the solutions that arise.

What they said about the process:

“It was nice to have interdisciplinary teams.” -Madeleine
The students came together as a functioning team very quickly. Viktor told us, “we’ve been able to branch out a bit towards what we’re good at and it’s working out.” Madeleine expressed it similarly: “I think we complement each other… What one lacks, another has a strength in.”  

It was a big departure from what I'm used to, considering I've been mostly an academic student my entire life. It’s usually a very strict ‘you’re going to do this, and then you’re going to do that’. So it was kinda nice actually to have something new, a new experience.” – Charles Novak, Dakota State University.

Several students have made connections with industry partner contacts to collaborate with for their Masters theses. All intend to stay in touch with partner companies with direct contact or further research after the exchange program. “I’m reaching out to everyone on LinkedIn,” said Madeleine. “I’ll ask people some questions… I think the projects we’ve seen are great.” -Charles  

Resources in Sweden and USA

The students met AI Sweden’s team and Swedish partners. They worked with Kim Henriksson, Project Manager at Edge Lab to get access and hardware for their AI models. When they progressed to the Madison Cyber Labs they were working with the cybersecurity resources and expertise from the team there. “At DSU we have people who give us ideas and keep us on track with our project… Sweden had really good AI resources and in the USA they had a more cybersecurity focus.” -Jason
Mats Nordlund, Head of Data Factory for AI Sweden, made a big impression. He’s been a great resource for the students for information and career advice.


Is your organization ready to develop AI talents? Or do you have an issue to which the talent can contribute next summer? Reach out to Sofia Hedén, Project Manager Talent Programs.