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Professor wins Microsoft grant

From The Cavalier Daily
February 24, 2006

By Courtney Kessler

Computer Science Prof. Alfred Weaver wins $50,000 from company

Computer Science Prof. Alfred Weaver was awarded a $50,000 grant from Microsoft this week to fund his Trustworthy Computing course being taught this semester in the Engineering School.

Microsoft Research received more than 112 proposals for the Trustworthy Computing program this year and only awarded grants to 15 institutions, according to a Microsoft press release.

"I told Microsoft that I wanted to start a new course, and they funded [my] project," Weaver said.

Barry Johnson, associate dean for research, said this grant is just one of several grants that Weaver has received from Microsoft for his academic research.

"I did win another trustworthy computing award from Microsoft a year ago," Weaver said.

He also said he received funding from the company several years prior to winning that award. Weaver added that altogether Microsoft has given $600,000 to be put towards his research.

These grants enabled Weaver to start the Trustworthy Computing class, which is being taught for the first time this semester.

"What Microsoft has done for the past four years is fund a project called Advancing Cyber Security with .NET," Weaver said.

The course, which Weaver describes as project-based rather than lecture-based, focuses on three areas of research to ensure medical confidentiality: authentication, authorization and federation, according to Weaver.

Students use a variety of technologies such as iris scanning, fingerprint scanning, radio frequency identification, smart cards and e-tokens, in order to ensure the authenticity of the person accessing confidential medical files.

He explained that once authentication is confirmed, the computer program gives "permission to read or write or alter or delete portions of a patients' record."

"Once we know who you are, we want to know what you are allowed to do," Weaver said.

The final step is federation, which enables users to access other systems without signing into each one individually, Weaver said.

"[Federation] is an electronic transfer that is highly secure and encrypted," he said.

Johnson expressed his enthusiasm for the grant.

"I think it's fantastic to be partnered with Microsoft," he said. "It's an extremely important project, [and] there is a lot of research activity that needs to be performed authenticating individuals."

According to Weaver, the Trustworthy Computing course currently has 16 students enrolled, and he plans to teach the course again next spring.


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