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InTechnology Podcast

#71 – Take Every Opportunity: Stories from Undergrads in the Princeton-Intel REU Program

In this episode of Cyber Security Inside, Camille talks with undergraduate students Ifesi Dimma Onubogu, Isabella Siu, and Sarah Schaber, Princeton-Intel 2021 Alumni and participants in the Research Experience for Undergraduates Program.

The conversation covers:

  • How undergraduate students got interested in the field of cybersecurity and privacy, and what brought them to their current studies.
  • The Princeton-Intel summer program and what the students learned and gained from that experience.
  • What these thoughtful and talented students think about the importance of cybersecurity in different areas of study.
  • Advice these students have for high school students about their future paths and opportunities.

… and more. Don’t miss it!


The views and opinions expressed are those of the guests and author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Intel Corporation.


Here are some key takeaways:

  • These three students are from Intel and Princeton’s summer research experience for undergraduates. None of them go to Princeton, but all do very interesting research and participated in the program.
  • One student worked in network security and privacy, and was surprised by the complexity and inconsistency of the internet.
  • Other students worked on software that ensures image files haven’t been corrupted. They got to work on the interface between hardware and software, rather than working on one exclusively. They learned how things are interconnected and work together.
  • We got to hear about how the students got into this field and what sparked their interest. For one, it was the professors who were teaching the classes in the program and the research they were doing sounding interesting and fun.
  • Another was introduced by a friend’s mom teaching a computer science class in high school.
  • Another was introduced by her dad who owns an engineering firm she used to tag along to.
  • They are studying a variety of computer and security related fields now, and want to continue to find connections to the experiences they had this summer in cybersecurity. One is looking at biomedical imaging, another is exploring electrical engineering.
  • Networks and security are important everywhere, even in research on bees! When trying to find out why bees might run away from a hive, monitoring devices can start to figure out why without disturbing the bees.
  • The students gave several pieces of advice to students who might be interested in this field and ones like it. One piece of advice was to take every opportunity and to seek out new ones that will give you experience in a new area. You might be surprised at what sparks your interest. At the very least, you make new connections and friends in the experiences and learned something.
  • They gave some insightful thoughts on what a career is and how it is about sharing, networking, and becoming a part of the lifestyle. The ballerina metaphor helped highlight the difference between a hobby and a career.
  • They all spoke highly of taking opportunities and reaching out to people in fields you are interested in. Collaborating and learning, and not being afraid to take risks and ask questions is very important.


Some interesting quotes from today’s episode:

“I just found it very interesting how the internet is its own world, kind of just thriving that I did not completely look at before.” – Ifesi Onubogu

“Especially by the end, I hadn’t realized how much I had learned. I kind of came as a shock. When it actually hit me, like, wow! We actually learned so much and it was just eight weeks!” – Sarach Schaber

“I think my interest is in networks and the information they hold and how vital it is that we have tools that developers can leverage to secure applications under networks.” – Ifesi Onubogu

“Cybersecurity for me is more than just a hobby or a subject in school. It’s evolved from being the thing I heard about with my dad to most definitely a career at this point.” – Ifesi Onubogu

“Any opportunity you see, go for it, even if you’re like ‘Oh, that’s so out of my comfort zone.’ I think doing really different things leads you to raise the opportunity.” – Isabella Siu

“So I think the more things that you’re willing to open yourself up to, the more things that are willing to open up to you, the more things you try, just the better off you’ll be.” – Sarah Schaber

“Their best ideas are normally born in weird hours of the night, alone in your apartment, staring at whatever you’re staring at. But there has to be some level of interaction with the industry you claim to be a part of. Right? So you can’t call yourself a computer engineer if you don’t throw yourself into the industry to learn from other people and talk to other people.” – Ifesi Onubogu

“As much as you need to grow on your own, remember that you are a part of the teaming industry, right? People and learning is a collaborative thing. It’s iterative and it’s collaborative and it looks different for different people. And it’s important to embrace it.” – Ifesi Onubogu

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