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Hardware Security Made Easy

Support from donors to the College of Engineering made it possible for Edward Tashjian to work with hardware security.

September 18, 2015
Students talking with each other

As an undergraduate at UW-Madison, Edward Tashjian began working with Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Azadeh Davoodi, whose research group tackles an array of problems surrounding integrated circuit design and manufacture.

“You’re a company that designs circuits, but unless you’re an Intel or a Samsung, you have to send it off to a foundry to be manufactured,” Tashjian says. “The concern is that someone might be putting additional hardware into your design that can circumvent your security. What we’re asking is, given a manufactured circuit, can we reverse-engineer it and find any hardware that differs from the original design?”

Tashjian earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering in 2013, and stayed on as a graduate student with some support from a Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship.

Now pursuing his master’s degree, Tashjian is continuing his work with Davoodi to create a sort of screening process to detect malicious tampering in the chip manufacturing process.

“One of the reasons I like hardware security is that it’s still growing and there’s not as much of an established discipline as there is in other areas,” Tashjian says. “It’s a lot to investigate.”

That type of investigation and innovation is made possible in large part to the support from loyal donors to the College of Engineering.

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