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Spotlight on Dr. Avinash Srinivasan

Stefanie Senkow
September 12, 2018

Avinash SrinivasanCertified Ethical Hacker, Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator and now first civilian faculty member hired to enhance the new Cyber Systems major at the United States Coast Guard Academy, Dr. Avinash Srinivasan is ready to influence the next generation of the cyber workforce.

“It’s like watching an episode of “CSI Miami” or “CSI New York.” Crime is inevitable in every space – land, air, water and now the cyber space, which cuts across the other three – and we need a way to prevent and, where inevitable, solve these crimes,” said Dr. Srinivasan, summing up his over 400 hours of training in this discipline.

With ten years of experience in developing undergraduate, postgraduate and professional programs related to cyber security and digital forensics as well as training law enforcement, Dr. Srinivasan has published 47 refereed papers for scholarly conferences and journals and is currently a Fellow of the National Cybersecurity Institute (Washington, D.C.). He continues to be research-active having been involved with $3 million of funded research projects from agencies including Department Of Defense/Navy, National Science Foundation, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice, among others and plans to include cadets in his future research endeavors. With such extensive experience, Dr. Srinivasan brings his wealth of knowledge to the Academy to teach cadets the fundamentals of this field.

“Take the local law enforcement officers, for example. While their primary goal is to prevent crimes, they also are equipped with necessary skills to investigate and solve crimes that occur nonetheless. Similarly, in order to be successful as a cyber security professional, one needs to be equipped with skills to defend our cyber-physical critical infrastructure as well as the tenacity to be resilient to those attacks that inevitably penetrate our infrastructure.”

Q: What led you to the Coast Guard Academy?
Academics is a noble profession because you have the ability to make an impact at the grassroots level. At the Academy, we have the ability to directly impact the next generation of the cyber workforce as they graduate and immediately head out into the field. They are responsible for securing not just the cyber-space, but more importantly the ever-evolving cyber-physical critical infrastructure systems. While teaching is an honorable profession regardless of where you teach, I feel an overwhelming sense of pride and fulfillment with this opportunity to teach at the Academy. I feel fortunate since not everyone has this opportunity.

Q: What courses will you be teaching?
This semester, I will be teaching Computer Communications and Networking with assistance from CDR Hartshorn, as well as assisting CDR Benin in his Transition to Object Oriented Programming class.

Q: What can students expect in your classroom?
Students can expect a relaxed environment that is very inclusive, encouraging and above all conducive for some serious learning. Students can also expect a lot of cybersecurity-related tidbits. I use humor as the preferred tool to break the ice. Furthermore, I like to keep things fresh knowing that not everyone is interested in the same thing at the same time. So I might talk about and show a random video on the ease with which a car can be hacked or for a sniper riffle to be remotely weaponized. The intention is to “wake up” and motivate students to get reenergized about the subject.

Q: In your opinion, what makes the Academy and its cadets special?
There’s a true need, appreciation and common purpose for everyone to work together at the Academy, as cadets will be making an immediate impact upon their graduation. This opportunity to serve the uniformed men and women is a highly distinguishing honor that has been bestowed on me.