Student Feature: Aleksandra Scalco

Aleksandra Scalco, PhD student in Systems Engineering

Aleksandra Scalco is a PhD student in Systems Engineering while working full-time as an engineer for the Department of Navy (DON) at the Naval Information Warfare Center – Atlantic (NIWC Atlantic). 

Before attending CSU, Scalco earned a Master’s of Engineering from Iowa State University in 2012, and a Master’s of Business Administration from University of Phoenix in 2009. 

What is the focus of your research?

The focus of my research is on applying cybersecurity and systems engineering principles and techniques to cyber physical systems (such as power, water, building controls and fuel).

The systems engineering program at Colorado State University is solid with expert faculty to help and challenge me in my research area of interest.

How do you implement systems-thinking in your job?

In my current job, I provide early lifecycle support for transition management of innovative security technologies using systems engineering principles and methodologies for cyber physical systems. The systems engineering program uniquely provides a breadth of knowledge and access to incredibly experienced faculty to help address real world challenges!

What do you like to do in your free time? 

I like sharing the passion for systems engineering of technology solutions! We live in a space in time that more technologies and innovative ideas have the potential to bring tremendous benefit globally.

GenCyber Citadel — Girls Who Smash Codes is a free, all girls cybersecurity camp for middle and high schoolers funded by the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation. The cyber-campers are so engaged and interested in making an impact in the world of science.

Sharing high-fives with the next generation of engineers and scientists for their accomplishments is absolutely energizing!

Scalco high-fiving participants at GenCyber Citadel – Girls Who Smash Codes (photo: The Citadel).

What is the last book you read? 

The book I am reading now is “Cybersecurity — Attack and Defense Strategies,” by Yuri Diogenes and Erdal Ozkaya as part of the Cybersecurity Awareness for Systems Engineers (SYSE 569) course. 

Other books on my current reading list are works by my friend Dr. Craig Rieger at Idaho National Laboratories, a co-author of “Industrial Control Systems Security and Resiliency: Practice and Theory”  and “The Digital Big Bang: The Hard Stuff, the Soft Stuff, and the Future of Cybersecurity” by Phil Quade. These are wonderful books illuminating the direction the field of cyber physical systems is headed. 

A non-fictional more narrative-form book is “Sandworm: A New Era of Cyberwar and the Hunt for the Kremlin’s Most Dangerous Hackers” by Andy Greenberg. That’s pretty much my summer bookshelf.

Who inspires you?

In reference to the title of one of my favorite movies, I am inspired by those many, many “Hidden Figures” today and in history who are the true professionals making their contribution to a greater body of science and knowledge in support of colleagues and missions, either behind the scenes or out in front leading a vision.

What’s a fun fact about you people may not know?

I value those moments that are so unfamiliar the moment becomes simply magical mindfulness.

Favorites include running the New York City marathon on my birthday with 40,000 of my “new best friends,” and experiencing the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta standing in a field of envelopes (what a hot air balloon is called before it is inflated) in wait for the dawn patrol to report weather conditions.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (photo: Aleksandra Scalco)