Week 5 – Interim and IEEE Aerospace

Week 5 – Interim and IEEE Aerospace

So I was gone for a week, but I’m back!! Apparently Tucson jumped from winter to summer while I was gone, though I use the term winter loosely. When I left, it was generally around fifty, sixty degrees for most of the day but now it’s around ninety in the afternoons. What the heck Tucson? I was enjoying what you called “cold.”

Anyway, I was gone last week for my final presentation at the IEEE Aerospace Junior Conference. The regular IEEE Aerospace Conference is held in Big Sky, Montana every year in early March, and it’s a gathering of a bunch of people with PhDs who want to go skiing and listen to papers that might as well be in Greek for all I understand. I’d say a good quarter of the six- or seven-hundred attendee conference was from Los Angeles’s Jet Propulsion Lab, though there are attendees from various tech companies and universities (such as the University of Arizona, my dad was one of two attendees from the UA). The junior conference on the other hand was set up to allow K-12 students (basically the adult conference’s kids) to present on topics they’ve researched. I’ve seen everything from basic melting point experiments to research on string theory and Mars mission developments. It’s always an enjoyable conference (once you get over public speaking nerves), and the parents love seeing the kids get up on stage and present. If you’re interested in the papers, here’s the link to this year’s conference:


The IEEE Aerospace conference is held at the biggest ski resort in the country, and it’s a running joke that people use the conference as an excuse to go skiing. While we do get discounted lift tickets, it is a professional conference. I’ve heard talks on everything from quantum physics (I understood all 0% of that one) to NASA’s plans to put a man on mars. Oh, and that last talk was given by Alan Stern, the head of the New Horizons (the Pluto fly by) mission. So yes it’s fun to go skiing there, but it’s also an incredible delve into the world of big wig science geeks sipping red wine. Every time I go there I learn something about the professional world or about what projects companies like JPL, NASA, etc. are working on.

So remember how I said I left during what Tucson calls “cold”? Yeah Big Sky’s version of cold is a tad uh, colder. As in the high was 19 degrees one day. Yes, in Fahrenheit. I did ski that day. I went from wearing thermals, ski pants and a gigantic red jacket in Big Sky to trying not to overheat in shorts and a t shirt in Tucson.

(placeholder for ski picture)

I know this blog isn’t supposed to have anything unrelated to my senior project, so you’re probably wondering why this whole post seems like a tangent. The reason it isn’t a tangent is the same reason I went to this conference in the first place: to present a paper on what I’ve been working on. It was a fifteen minute presentation, but I covered the basics of XML files, what attributes of XML files allow for attackers to utilize it, what threat modeling is and how security professionals go about securing software from the ground up, and finally the general overview of what my parser does and the theory behind the feature selection. Above is the plaque I received for presenting, the gift I received for presenting all these years (this was my seventh presentation) and a thumb drive of all the junior conference papers. This was my last presentation, and I’m going to miss attending every year. Thank you to Mary, who runs the junior conference, and my friends Sophie and Ryan, for making this conference so enjoyable.

It’s been a blast




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