Reports & Research

College Students Turn Heads at a Panel on Disruptive Technologies

ICF has pursued the most intriguing questions surrounding the future of disruptive technology:

What are the true capabilities (and consequences) for the development of Artificial Intelligence?

How can microscopic sensors transform medical diagnoses?

Last week, over 10,000 global attendees gathered in Anaheim to witness leaders in academia and various disciplines discuss the future of cyber operations and technology.

But perhaps the most compelling discussion happened when the panel of college students took the stage.

Following a rigorous selection process by a panel of experts from the NSA, CIA, and Army Research Laboratory, a group of college students from across the country were chosen to present their unique studies at the SPIE Symposium. 

ICF sponsored four students to travel coast-to-coast and lead a forum on disruptive technologies. Moderating the panel was Dr. Raju Namburu from the Army Research Laboratory and chaired by ICF’s Misty Blowers.

“This was a fantastic opportunity for these students to build their resumes and to attend a globally recognized conference providing both networking and career opportunities,”
-Misty Blowers, ICF

John Foley, an undergrad representing the University at Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, argued that increased public awareness of Artificial Intelligence will help accelerate research interest and progress. Foley pointed to a few of AI’s current applications: autonomous cars, intuitive business assistants, and remotely piloted vehicles. 

Foley stressed the importance of different generations engaging one another to maximize the impact of future research.

“As a young student, I have a right to be concerned with what the generation above me is doing as it will have a direct impact on my future work.,” Foley said. “It is both of our responsibilities to listen and to what each other have to say, and this is what this panel should have accomplished.”

“As important of a role the current generation is playing, the next generation might have an even greater impact on the world.”
-John Foley, SUNY Buffalo

Foley’s classmate from Buffalo, Pedram Johari (PhD candidate, Electrical Engineering), also discussed autonomous capabilities — not in vehicles, but the human body. His presentation explored the possibility of nano-biosensors to detect and diagnose diseases and automatically relay the information to the user. 

From Binghamton University, Rushui Fang presented quantum key distribution as a more secure and efficient cryptographic technology, as well as its growing commercial potential as a disruptive technology. With digital infrastructures requiring more robust security functions, University at Buffalo’s Kyler Harrington proposed blockchain technology as the alternative to centralized cloud platforms. 

After exiting stage, the panelists hopped on a flight back to campus, only to chip away at the layers of their theses. Each student brought the bold perspectives and daring curiosity required for advancements in disruptive technology. 

At ICF, we can’t wait for next year’s conference. When we invest not only in the pursuit of innovation, but the platform for young minds to contribute, the experiments often lead us closer into uncharted areas of progress.