ESL grad student team tops in competition at international symposium

Posted: August 24, 2022
Smart Lab team around podium in hotel with award

A team of engineering graduate students from The Ohio State University ElectroScience Laboratory (ESL) recently earned first place honors at the premier international hardware-based security research and development symposium.

The Secure Microelectronics and Artificial Intelligence Circuits (SMART) Lab team, comprised of Islam Elsadek, Sherif Abouzeid, Ahmed Ghonem, Elsayed Elgendy, Jeremy Porter and Mika Brattain, won the competition by presenting the best and most comprehensive solutions to secure a System on Chip (SoC).

An SoC is a microchip with all the necessary electronic circuits and parts for a given system, such as a smartphone or wearable computer, on a single integrated circuit.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) International Symposium on Hardware Oriented Security and Trust (HOST) Symposium took place June 27-30, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

For the SoC Security Track competition, teams from several universities were given industry-level SoCs with multiple hardware vulnerabilities. Competing teams had to discover all the hardware vulnerabilities, then suggest and implement fixes on a very tight schedule.

The competition had two phases, one prior to the symposium and one during the event. The first phase took place over the length of a month. During this phase, the SMART Lab team evaluated the SoC, discovered the hardware vulnerabilities and applied several different solutions. After a tough competition during the first round, the top five teams moved onto the second phase symposium’s microelectronics competition.

In the second phase, the team was challenged with another version of the SoC with even tougher and more complex vulnerabilities. The SMART team assessed and secured the SoC and presented the methodologies used to uncover the vulnerabilities and the solutions to fix them. After the final evaluation of both the methodologies and solutions, the SMART lab team was chosen as the winner.

“Winning a competition at HOST is a great recognition of the capability we are building here at The Ohio State University to help secure the microelectronics industry,” said Professor Eslam Tawfik, SMART Lab director. “We thank the ESL and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering for giving our team the support to reach this point.”

The SMART Lab, located at ESL, was founded by Tawfik in 2021 to research new methods of designing SoCs to make them as secure as possible. Hardware security is increasingly important as more hardware is exposed to vulnerabilities with the rise of electronics. The SMART Lab is working to find innovative solutions to secure hardware and create hardware through construction, so that they are not vulnerable to leaking important information.


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