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An interest in developing security-related products helped Mark Lodato ’06 (Hamilton, N.J.) earn one of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Undergraduate Scholarships for Rising Juniors.

The scholarship provides Lodato, an electrical and computer engineering major and varsity fencer, with full tuition and fees (excluding room and board) for his junior and senior year and a $1,000/month stipend for nine months. In addition, he will serve an internship at a DHS-designated facility next summer.

Students selected to receive the award have expressed interest in pursuing basic science and technology innovations that can be applied to the DHS mission. It is intended to ensure a diverse and highly talented science and technology community able to achieve the DHS mission and objectives, according to DHS.

Lodato plans to pursue a career in one of two fields related to homeland security. One is information security devices, such as intelligent hardware firewalls or software that detects holes in a network.

“Because our nation relies heavily on computer systems, a cyber-terror attack on our networks could drastically hurt the country’s economy,” he says. “Products that prevent or detect such attacks would help ensure that our economy stays stable and that confidential information would not fall into the hands of our enemies.”

His second field of interest is biometric devices, such as fingerprint scanners or face recognition.

“Use of biometric identification for security at airports and border crossings is steadily increasing, so more effective devices would better prevent unauthorized entry into the country,” Lodato explains.

This summer, Lodato worked closely with William Jemison, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, helping with simulations developed for the design of high-speed lasers as part of a National Science Foundation project.

Jemison says Lodato has the opportunity to continue the research beyond the summer and possibly extend it into a senior honors thesis.

“He’s very curious about the topic, asks a lot of insightful questions, and is a diligent worker,” he says.

Lodato is a graduate of Hamilton High School East.

In addition to fencing, he is a member of the student chapter of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, serves as a peer tutor, and participates in intramural sports.

Lodato also is a Trustee Scholarship recipient. Selected from among Lafayette’s top applicants, Trustee Scholars have distinguished themselves through exceptional academic achievement in high school. They receive from Lafayette an annual minimum scholarship of $7,500 (totaling $30,000 over four years) or a grant in the full amount of their demonstrated need if the need is more than $7,500.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Forty-two students were accepted to present their work at the last annual conference in April.

Categorized in: Academic News