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Dr.Ala Altaweel Academic RankAssistant Professor

Research Interests:

  • Dr. Ala's research interests are in cyber security, wireless networks and computer security, distributed systems, and edge computing.


Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA PhD, Computer Engineering, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, May2019 Advisor: Prof. Radu Stoleru Advisory Committee: Prof. Guofei Gu, Prof. I-Hong Hou, Prof. Jyh-Charn (Steve) Liu Dissertation: On Securing Wi-Fi Direct Based Opportunistic Networks -University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany M.S., Information Technology, Jul2009 Advisor: Prof. Kurt Rothermel Thesis: Providing basic security mechanisms in a Publish/Subscribe system -Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan Bachelor of Science, Computer Engineering, Jul2006
University of Sharjah Sharjah, UAE - College of Computing and Informatics, Department of Computer Engineering, University of Sharjah, UAE - Sep2020 to present: Assistant Professor -Texas A&M University - College Station, Texas - Department of Computer Science and Engineering - May2019 to May2020: Postdoctoral Researcher - Jan2018 to May2018: Instructor (Graduate Teaching Fellow) - Jun2018 to May2019: Research Assistant - Jan2015 to Jul2015 & Jan2016 – Dec2017: Teaching Assistant -German Jordanian University, Amman, Jordan - Department of Computer Engineering - Aug2011 to Dec2012: Teaching Assistant. -University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany - Sep2009 - Mar2010: Research Intern at the Parallel and Distributed Systems Institute - Aug2008 to Aug2009: Software Engineer at the High-Performance Computing Center Stuttgart - Jan2008 to Jul2008: Software Engineer at the Visualization and Interactive Systems Institute -Javna Mobile Media and Technology Solutions, Amman, Jordan - Feb2006 to Aug2007: Software Engineer.
- IEEE member (Young Professionals) - Selected Journal/Conference Reviewer • IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics & Security (TIFS) • Elsevier Ad Hoc Networks • IEEE International Conference on Mobile Ad-Hoc and Smart Systems (MASS) • IEEE International Conference on Wireless and Mobile Computing, Networking and Communications (WiMob) • IEEE Annual Consumer Communications & Networking Conference (CCNC) • The International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks
Resilient Routing Protocol for Wireless Networks, Texas A&M University, Postdoctoral research project 1. Implement a new routing protocol, Resilient Socket (RSock), for diverse wireless networks to be used by first responder equipment for Linux and Android platforms using C++ and Java 2. RSock provides routing under well and sparsely connected networks and it utilizes the Global Naming Scheme (GNS) based GUID as resource identities 3. Built the system using Java for Linux and Android platforms 4. Successfully demonstrated RSock and its integration with other Distressnet-NG applications at NIST PSCR meeting in Chicago and at NIST outdoor deployment at Gypsum, Colorado 5. Deployed RSock for a team of first responders in a real-life search and rescue operation at the Winter Institute at Disaster City, College Station, Texas
Refereed Conferences 1. Ala Altaweel, Radu Stoleru, Guofei Gu, and Arnab Kumar Maity “CollusiveHijack: A New Route Hijacking Attack and Countermeasures in Opportunistic Networks.” The IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security (CNS), 2019. (28% acceptance rate) 2. Ala Altaweel, Radu Stoleru, and Guofei Gu “EvilDirect: A New Wi-Fi Direct Hijacking Attack and Countermeasures.” The 26th International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks (ICCCN), 2017. (25% acceptance rate) 3. Ala Altaweel, Radu Stoleru, and Subhajit Mandal “On Secure Shared Key Establishment for Mobile Devices using Contextual Information.” The 34th IEEE International Performance Computing and Communications Conference (IPCCC), 2015. (29% acceptance rate) 4. Subhajit Mandal, Chen Yang, Ala Altaweel, and Radu Stoleru “An Efficient Pairwise Key Establishment Scheme for Ad hoc Mobile Clouds.” The 11th IEEE International Conference on Wireless and Mobile Computing, Networking and Communications (WiMob), 2015. (29% acceptance rate) 5. Adnan Tareq, Boris Koldehofe, Ala Altaweel, and Kurt Rothermel “Providing basic security mechanisms in broker-less publish/subscribe systems.” The 4th ACM International Conference on Distributed Event Based Systems (DEBS), 2010. (25% acceptance rate) Refereed Journals 1. Amin Hassanzadeh, Ala Altaweel, and Radu Stoleru “Traffic-and-Resource-Aware Intrusion Detection in Wireless Mesh Networks.” AdHoc Networks (Elsevier), 2014 2. Mengyuan Chao, Harsha Chenji, Chen Yang, Radu Stoleru, Evdokia Nikolova, and Ala Altaweel “EAR: Energy-Aware Risk-averse Routing for Disaster Response Networks.” AdHoc Networks (Elsevier), 2020
-Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas - Department of Computer Science and Engineering 1. Subhajit Mandal, M.S. student, for coauthoring in his Master Thesis research paper 2. Aaron Parks-Young, M.S. student, for coauthoring in his course project’s research paper 3. Mohammad Sagor, M.S. student, for coauthoring in his Master Thesis research paper 4. Kristopher Schlett, undergrad student, for integrating RSock with Libconfig library during his summer internship
1. Junior Researcher Travel Grant; June 2019; International; the IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security (CNS’19), Washington, D.C., USA - $ 1,250 to cover the travel costs 2. Graduate Teaching Academy Fellowship; Spring 2018; International; Academic; Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA - Selected as primary instructor for CSCE 464: Wireless and Mobile Systems course - Monthly stipend (i.e., half time salary) for 4.5 months and tuition for Spring 2018 3. Royal Academic Sponsorship; 2001-2006; National; Academic; Jordan University of Science and Technology, Irbid, Jordan - $1,700 plus tuition and fees for the duration of B.Sc. studies 4. Outstanding Student Award; 2000; National; Academic; Irbid Secondary School, Irbid, Jordan - The award includes an honorarium and is based on the academic performance at the school 5. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)’s Fellowship; 2011-2015; International; Academic; KAUST, KSA - $75 K per year: monthly stipends plus tuition and fees for the first four years of PhD study (declined)
As a computer science/engineering teacher, I believe that the best way to build strong theoretical and technical foundations for students is to involve them, as Benjamin Franklin said “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”. I enjoy teaching when it is an interactive process in which students collaborate with their teacher to understand concepts, share ideas, and think about solutions. Students must participate actively in the learning process rather than passively listen to lectures and take notes. Questions are very effective to involve students. For example, after presenting any basic concept, the students can be prepared to the next part by asking questions to stimulate their interest and emphasize the importance of the material. Another example is to arrange short discussions amongst students to share ideas and answer each other’s questions. Online gathering tools (e.g., Piazza, Blackboard Ultra) have fruitful influences on teaching computer science/engineering courses. These tools enable students to discuss, interact and collaborate to understand programming assignments, setup their development environments, and debug common errors under the guidance of their instructors. An important skill that I try to refine is to teach students how to approach the subject by presenting reallife examples. Real-life examples answer important questions that might rise in students’ minds (e.g., Why we learn this? How this is related to real-world?). Moreover, real-life examples make the lessons more interesting and help students to remember the topics/theories by matching it to these examples. In terms of designing homework assignments, I believe that setting clear and realistic goals is crucial to achieve the expected learning outcomes. Ambiguous questions waste students’ time and frustrate them since they might believe they don’t understand the material. Moreover, the assignments should be realistic, meaning both challenging and achievable. I believe that it’s very important to establish an assessment policy that is clear, fair and relevant to the objective of the course. For example, the point distributions should be clearly mentioned in the syllabus, assignments, exams, etc. Moreover, grading must be fair and flexible. I skip looking at students’ names by folding the first page of all assignments/exams and I grade the same question for all students at the same time to make sure that I remember all their answers to grade them equally. Also, some solutions might deserve some points if they have the right concepts, that is, they should not be penalized simply because they do not exactly match the anticipated solution. Moreover, I believe that the learning process cannot be fruitful unless students make mistakes. Figuring out why an answer is incorrect helps students understand the concepts more than memorizing the correct answers. For example, during the lab sessions of programming courses, I observed that being patient with students by allowing them to make mistakes in their code and encouraging them to correct these mistakes (by reading the compiler error messages) really improve their understanding and hone their coding skills.
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