SciTech Roundup March 15

Online hacking competition launches March 16

Carnegie Mellon University will launch its seventh picoCTF, an online cybersecurity competition put on by security and privacy experts from CyLab as a way to generate interest and talent in the field of cybersecurity. Starting at noon (EST) on March 16 and concluding at 3 p.m. (EST) on March 30, participation is virtual and open to everyone, and U.S.-based middle and high school students will be eligible for the cash prize of $12,000. Participants are tasked with solving numerous puzzles structured around a central narrative that become progressively harder.

Read more about it here.

CMU graduate student cracks Mars rover code

The NASA rover, Perseverance, made headlines after its successful touchdown on Feb. 18. An incredible feat of science and engineering, the video of Perseverance’s touchdown sparked further intrigue after NASA systems engineer Allen Chen suggested that the parachute used for the landing held a coded message. Adithya Balaji, a rocketry and cryptography enthusiast as well as a graduate student in the School of Computer Science (SCS), cracked the code in a matter of hours and posted the solution for the world to see. Building on his passion for space exploration and computer science, Balaji has taken up a software engineering position with MoonRanger, a robotic rover being developed by Carnegie Mellon University and Astrorobotic.

Read more about it here.

TCS Hall on Carnegie Mellon campus earns LEED gold certification

The newly constructed TCS Hall has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for its energy efficiency and sustainability. Made possible by a $35 million gift from Tata Consultancy Services, the five-story building houses the School of Computer Science’s Institute for Software Research, the Master of Science in Computational Finance Program, and the Center for Business Engagement. TCS Hall is highly efficient, using 32 percent less energy than a conventional building of a similar size. Additionally, nearly 30 percent of the construction materials were purchased locally to reduce the carbon footprint from transportation. TCS Hall is the 21st Carnegie Mellon University project to earn LEED certification, and the university is committed to obtaining a minimum LEED silver certification for all future construction projects. TCS Hall joins the Tepper Quad, which also earned a gold certification back in 2019.

Read more about it here.