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Texas State University

Computer Science Majors complete summer internship with the Department of Homeland Security

Student Achievements

Piper Blake | September 17, 2021

Texas State graduate students Maria Tomasso and Kian O’Ryan recently completed a summer internship with the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology 2021 Minority Serving Institutions Summer Research Internship. The students were selected by Dr. Dan Tamir, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science.

Texas State University was one of 18 Minority Serving Institutions across the United States that participated in the 2021 Summer Research Team program. Each university team was assigned a research focus for the internship. Tomasso and O’Ryan were assigned to research blockchains and the harnessing of the linked distributed ledger.

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Kian O’Ryan and Maria Tomasso

Blockchain is a system where transactions made in cryptocurrencies are maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network. Distributed ledger technology (DLT) is the technological infrastructure that allows simultaneous access, validation, and record-keeping across a network the spreads multiple locations.

“This summer, we worked with the U.S. Coast Guard to study important aspects of DLT and prepare a summary for use by USCG leadership,” O’Ryan said. Tomasso and O’Ryan’s research examined the foundations of DLT, analyzed DLT platforms developed for enterprise and examined deployed DLT applications in Coast Guard areas of interest.

 “In addition to learning the fundamentals of DLT, we also had to perform background research on the use-cases assigned to us by our Coast Guard mentors: illegal fishing, counterfeit detection, and inventory management systems,” Tomasso said.

Tomasso credited the emphasis on independent research at Texas State for her success with the fast-paced, survey-style research they conducted during the internship. “At the beginning of this project, I had only a rudimentary understanding of DLT. I was familiar with cryptocurrencies and some of the major security threats, but I knew very little about enterprise applications for this technology,” Tomasso said.  

After the completion of the internship, each university team was invited to participate in the annual DHS COE Summit held on May 19-20. Their final research presentation can be found here.

Tomasso plans to graduate with her doctoral degree in 2024. O’Ryan plans to graduate with his master's degree in 2024.  

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Dr. Dan Tamir, Maria Tomasso and Kian O'Ryan

For more information, contact University Communications:

Jayme Blaschke, 512-245-2555

Sandy Pantlik, 512-245-2922