Photo of Haoda "Harry" Wang sitting in front of a computer.
Haoda “Harry” Wang carried out analysis with the Division of Vitality, NASA, together with work on the Mars 2020 Rover for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and extra. (Photograph Courtesy of Haoda “Harry” Wang)

When Haoda “Harry” Wang learn the e-mail notifying him that he had been named a 2021 Goldwater Scholar, he instantly went again to mattress, the accomplishment not settling in till a couple of hours later. Wang had been up late the evening earlier than engaged on his analysis internship with NASA.

Wang, a rising senior majoring in laptop engineering and laptop science, was one in all two USC college students named a 2021 Goldwater Scholar, receiving a $7,500 scholarship. The Goldwater Scholarship is aimed in direction of college students meaning to pursue a analysis profession within the pure sciences, arithmetic or engineering. Wang competed towards over 5,000 school college students at 438 tutorial establishments for the award.

Wang’s most important analysis motivation, he mentioned, is “constructing safe programs which can be dependable.”

“It’s actually cool what you are able to do with a pc that you just don’t actually take into consideration each day,” Wang mentioned. “There’s a lot that you possibly can do with it to generate new scientific insights and knowledge that by no means actually was attainable earlier than. I’m engaged on actually the inspiration of what makes all this different stuff that we do attainable.”

Wang initially entered USC uncertain of what space of laptop science he wished to do. He knew he wished to pursue laptop science, a area Wang first discovered curiosity in on the age of seven. His dad, a physicist, as soon as left a e book mendacity round the home about fundamental programming. 

“I form of obtained interested by it as a result of there was nothing to learn … It was simply the one e book in the home and I used to be fully bored so I used to be like, ‘I’ll have a look,’” Wang mentioned. 

Since then, Wang’s analysis pursuits had continued to develop even after he enrolled at USC. Throughout his freshman 12 months, Wang turned concerned in laptop science analysis on the USC Data Sciences Institute. His first analysis venture concerned irregular assaults on code. 

In accordance with Wang, computer systems can typically be attacked by overwhelming them with false, “rubbish” knowledge, whether or not or not the contents of the code are identified. In his work, Wang helped develop a system to search out elusive “packets” of knowledge inside giant piles of “rubbish knowledge” that may “break every part” on server computer systems when obtained. By this venture, Wang found an curiosity in cybersecurity.

“[Wang] was on the degree of skilled grasp’s college students when he began in our lab, although he was only a freshman,” mentioned Jelena Mirkovic, analysis affiliate professor at ISI and Wang’s principal investigator. “He was instantly in a position to contribute to the primary venture he was in, after which I assigned him to the second venture and wherever I put him, he was contributing and he was shifting the venture ahead. I’ve been very impressed together with his work ethic and his expertise and his potential to be very proud in his curiosity and contribute to a lot of tasks.”

The summer season after his freshman 12 months, Wang labored at Sandia Nationwide Laboratories, a lab run by the Division of Vitality, the place he labored with high-performance computing and have become excited about developing safe and dependable laptop programs, particularly for emergency purposes. 

Working with such high-quality expertise led him again to the fundamentals. In accordance with Wang, foundational expertise immediately, like random-access reminiscence and central processing models, might be unreliable at instances, and even untested. Vulnerabilities equivalent to calculation errors and malfunctions could cause issues in emergencies.

“In a life-threatening state of affairs, such as you’re a firefighter and the telephone or the satellite tv for pc that you just use to speak with the opposite firefighters all of the sudden drops out, that’s an issue, and I believed it might be cool to work on this type of downside,” Wang mentioned. 

Wang labored for NASA full-time from January to August 2020, together with with the Mars 2020 Rover for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, earlier than starting to work part-time till Could. He created kinematics simulations, reproducing the flight software program on the rover, found a number of crucial bugs, and extra. With the additional time he had after switching to part-time work, Wang took on some new tasks at USC ISI that resembled reverse engineering, or figuring out this system’s perform from its composition. 

“Most [projects] had been involving binary evaluation, the place you’re taking the compiled model of a program, and try to determine what this system does from simply the meeting code,” Wang mentioned.

One other binary evaluation venture Wang labored on at ISI concerned binary runtime code that had been utilized in satellites, drones and different autonomous automobiles and translated into mathematical equations. 

“He’s been a useful asset to the group,” mentioned ISI analysis laptop scientist Luis Garcia, who labored with Wang on this venture. “You’d assume he’s one other graduate pupil, with the extent of the talent set that he has and the extent of maturity by way of researching and so forth.”

From mid-Could to mid-August, Wang will probably be engaged on reconfigurable networking circuitry with a lab at Harvard College. His subsequent plans are to use for PhD packages and work on his undergraduate honors thesis about area programmable gate arrays. Not limiting himself to laptop science, Wang seems to be towards electrical energy, the place he plans to discover how area programmable gate arrays might be programmed to any form of circuit desired.

“I don’t actually restrict myself to analysis questions which can be in my area,” Wang mentioned. “There’s lots to be gained simply by seeing one thing fascinating or a bizarre correlation and making an attempt to determine it out.”

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