With NSF support NYU Tandon builds 3D printing cybersecurity curriculum

3d QR codes

NYU faculty will use an NSF grant to teach students about the tools needed to prove 3D-printed parts are authentic, such as the 3D quick-response (QR) codes shown above


When it comes to protecting the additive manufacturing (3D printing) pipeline from bad actors, Nikhil Gupta can see solutions from all sides of the problem. Literally. Among other accomplishments, Gupta and a team including researchers at NYU Abu Dhabi pioneered a way to hide 3D versions of such identifying features as quick-response (QR) codes inside printed components, giving the end-user with proper scanning technology a means of confirming the part’s legitimacy.

The NYU Tandon professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and his collaborators have found several other ways of making sure manufacturers and customers can prove that 3D-printed parts are authentic and that a component can be correctly printed only by a trusted facility at the other end of the design pipeline.

Now, Gupta and Ramesh Karri, professor of electrical and computer engineering at NYU Tandon, will teach mechanical engineering students the tools necessary for these innovations in the field of white-hat hacking. The pair have received a new three-year National Science Foundation (NSF) award to develop a pedagogical program for cybersecurity in 3D printing that will include a variety of educational activities and resources around a new graduate-level course, “Cybersecurity in Additive Manufacturing.” The course will bridge the gap between the fields of cybersecurity and mechanical design to provide a security mindset to mechanical engineers and materials scientists.

The project includes a partnership with the New York City College of Technology (City Tech) that will provide resources for that school to implement a similar course on their Brooklyn campus near NYU Tandon. Gupta said that as part of the program NYU Tandon may recruit summer undergraduate students from City Tech, to participate in a summer undergraduate research program on cybersecurity in 3D printing.

 “We feel that having created a body of research and methods in this very critical — and rather unexplored — area of cybersecurity, it was critical that we share it and prepare a trained workforce,” said Gupta. “This support from the National Science Foundation allows us to develop a pedagogical foundation for passing the technologies we have developed on to the next generation of engineers, including, thanks in part to our relationship with City Tech, those under-represented in engineering.”

A renowned electronics supply chain cybersecurity expert, Karri said: “Inculcating a security mindset in the digital manufacturing supply chain workforce to address the cybersecurity challenges is timely.”

The Gupta and Karri also plan to run an annual workshop, the first of which is scheduled for May 7–8, 2020, as well as provide education resources for working professionals on the topic of cybersecurity in 3D printing.