Dr. Don Reising’s classes and research at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga revolve around the Internet of Things.
It’s a broad field of study and a booming industry encompassing much of our tech-driven society, from cell phones and cars to smart appliances and power grids.
These devices and systems are designed to make life easier, but there’s a trade-off, said Reising, an associate professor of electrical engineering who specializes in digital communication and signal processing.
Manufacturers forgo security to mass produce them, creating back doors for hackers and other bad actors seeking personal data, Reising said. His research in radio frequency fingerprinting–a technique to identify and differentiate unique characteristics of transmissions from wireless devices–aims to shore up these risks.
“We’re starting to look at it from the black hat’s perspective, like how can an adversary defeat our fingerprinting. We’re trying to push it to evolve that technology” and scale it up for operational systems with a high level of security.
It’s an in-demand field within electrical engineering where starting salaries can range from $30 an hour for undergraduate degree holders to about $45 an hour for those with master’s degrees.
“Security is one of these things where you really can do anything,” Reising said.
Reising cut his chops in security as a soldier. He served in the U.S. Army for 10 years before earning a master’s degree and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology.
“In the Army, I fixed communications equipment, and I wanted to know how it worked and why it worked the way it did. That led me to electrical engineering and into digital communications,” said Reising.
Students most drawn to the field are those who also innately want to know how things work, Reising said.
Why should they choose electrical engineering at UTC?
“Here you’re going to get a lot of one-on-one and faculty are here and available to you. We all chose to be faculty because we want to be here, because we want to interface with students, we want them to be successful,” Reising said.
In 2014, Reising came to UTC filling a need for a faculty member interested in both teaching and research.
“I wanted the challenge of building something that didn’t exist before,” said Reising, whose other research interests include machine learning, next-generation communication systems and signal processing in radiation effects characterization.
Reising has forged relationships with and been awarded grants from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Navy, the Air Force, TVA and EPB.
Reising is currently collaborating with UTC physics professor Tian Li on a project connected to the UTC Quantum Initiative.
“Quantum technology relies on what we call quantum information science, which is the transfer of information between two entities and that’s digital communication at the core level,” Reising said.