From Research Engineer to Cybersecurity Expert

A conversation with the new executive director of the Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity

November 29, 2018 | By Kelsey Harris
Raheem Beyah looking at camera thoughtfully as he sits in an additive manufacturing lab at Georgia Tech

In his 13 years of teaching, Raheem Beyah has excelled in each of the metrics associated with success at a major research institution and has made his mark in academia as an award-winning researcher, passionate leader, and innovative educator.

We sat down with Beyah to learn about his passions, his path to academia, and why he loves cybersecurity. Below are excerpts from that conversation.

Finding his path

From his beginnings at Andersen Consulting to making the transition to full professorship and co-founding an industrial control cybersecurity company, Beyah's grit and determination was influenced very early on by both his mother and a series of mentors. Although it wasn't a straight path into academia, Beyah liked the flexibility and control over his career and has been repeatedly recognized as an innovative leader across multiple units and colleges within the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Georgia Tech College of Engineering.

Developing his passions

As part of Georgia Tech's broad network of thought leaders who are taking an interdisciplinary approach to tackling cybersecurity challenges, Beyah is internationally recognized for his research contributions in the field. His areas of expertise intersect at network security and monitoring, cyber-physical systems security, network traffic characterization and performance, and critical infrastructure security. His work, which has been highlighted in NetworkWorld and Forbes, has resulted in more than 130 refereed or invited publications and over $5 million in external funding to help craft solutions in physical systems operations while increasing the profile of Georgia Tech.

Sharing wisdom

Beyah, who credits his own success to mentors, is heavily involved in educating the next generation of cyber-physical systems security practitioners. He devotes a significant amount of time to volunteer service, inside of academia, as well as throughout the broader community and is committed to programs with a special focus on increasing the number of qualified, underrepresented students and faculty into the computer science and cybersecurity fields. Having shared the same fears and challenges as his students and fellow peers, Beyah always approaches his mentoring with authenticity and vulnerability. 

Approaching the online environment

As a current instructor the Cyber-Physical Systems Security Course for Georgia Tech's first at-scale degree, the Online Master of Science in Computer Science, Beyah has been able to connect his cybersecurity passions to the online environment. Serving as both the creator and instructor, Beyah has the opportunity to work with an instructional designer, editor, producer, and videographer, allowing him to take a birds-eye-view of his classroom and materials. Through collaboration with a team of teaching assistants, Beyah is able to leverage innovative teaching strategies that have not only made him a better instructor but have also elevated his classroom course.

Looking ahead

After nearly two decades in the cybersecurity field, Beyah is looking forward to his new role as executive director of the Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity, Georgia Tech’s newest at-scale degree. Designed to develop agile and qualified cybersecurity leaders from anywhere in the world, the interdisciplinary degree will have a significant impact on the shortage of cybersecurity professionals over the next few years.