Chief Information Security Officer at Georgia Institute of Technology
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the United States’ top public research universities. In total more than 45,000 students study in person at the main campus in Atlanta, along with campuses in France and China, as well as through distance and online learning.
With nearly US$1.3bn annually in research awards across all six colleges and the Georgia Tech Research Institute, Georgia Tech’s mission is to develop leaders who advance technology and improve the human condition. Its mission and strategic plan are focused on making a positive impact in the lives of people everywhere.
Responsible for cybersecurity at Georgia Tech is Leo Howell, who has extensive experience in the higher education space. “I've been in IT for over 25 years now, and 20 of those years have been in higher education. For the past two years I've been given the privilege to serve as the chief information security officer for Georgia Institute of Technology, basically with responsibilities for all things cybersecurity.
“I'm really excited about the mission that I've assumed at Georgia Tech, which is about championing cybersecurity as a balanced mission where we both try to stop the bad guys but at the same time enable the good guys to do what we need to do.”
Howell’s journey into cybersecurity is a long story. “I wanted to be a chemist,” he recalls, “but the registration line for chemistry was too long.” This led him to pivot towards mathematics, physics, and eventually computer science and electronics. Even in the fledgling stage of cybersecurity in the late 1990s, Howell demonstrated acute foresight. “I saw the writing on the wall that this was going to explode into a massive cybersecurity industry, and I wanted to be a part of it.
“Later on I was encouraged by a friend to join NC State University as an analyst. Ever since then, I must have drunk the higher education Kool-Aid because I'm still here in higher education after 20 years. It's still a space where I have to draw on every year of my experience and still I have to come up with new creative ideas on a daily basis.”
Now truly immersed in the higher education sector, Howell revels in its unique challenges and rewards. “There really is never a dull moment,” he observes. “Unlike many other industries, higher education and particularly Georgia Tech is where innovation truly happens. Researchers, students are always pushing the boundaries. It forces us as cybersecurity professionals to be on our toes."
This constant innovation offers Howell a sense of both urgency and pride, knowing that his team's work is the unsung backbone of groundbreaking research projects, whether it's “building and testing the Lunar Flashlight” or pioneering new forms of AI.
“You see something like that and it makes you take a step back and realise that the work you do in cybersecurity is to support a much bigger mission. That truly keeps it fun and exciting.”
Read the full story HERE.
With a strong emphasis on quality control and continuous improvement, Kymera International ensures that each particle is produced with the utmost competence and advanced technology