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Data Science & Analytics Student wins UCC Entrepreneurship Award with project using Machine learning & game theory to defend against cybersecurity attacks

22 Apr 2024
From left - right: Dan Murphy AxisBIC, Declan Fox AxisBIC, Sharon Coffee, Gillian O'Donnell, Timothy McGrath, Professor Gregory Provan, Dr John O'Mullane. Photographer: Rubén Tapia of UCC Film & Audiovisual Services
  • Gillian O’Donnell, Data Science and Analytics, student won 1st prize in the UCC Computer Science Entrepreneurship Award 2024 sponsored by AxisBIC for her project entitled ‘Learning to defend against cybersecurity attacks’

  • The competition, sponsored by AxisBIC (formerly CorkBIC), in its fourth year, was created to encourage entrepreneurial activity amongst final year Computer Science students at UCC

Gillian O'Donnell, final year BSc Data Science and Analytics student impressed AxisBIC judges with her final year project, ‘learning to defend against cybersecurity attacks’ winning the UCC Computer Science Entrepreneurship Award 2024, sponsored by AxisBIC. Her innovative ideas evolved during her third-year work placement where she observed significant vulnerabilities to AI-driven attacks.

Gillian told the judges, Dan Murphy, Senior Consultant, AxisBIC and Declan Fox, Senior Consultant, AxisBIC that as “AI progresses, so does the sophistication of AI-driven cyberattacks. My project addresses the complexity of AI-driven attacks by using machine learning to model cyber attacks against a company’s network and their defence in terms of game-theoretic interactions, where we run simulations about how the attacker and defender can learn. The project simulates the dynamics of cyber conflicts, allowing for the analysis of security vulnerabilities to build more robust, proactive defences”.

2024, is the fourth year of the AxisBIC Entrepreneurship Award for students of the School of Computer Science and Information Technology UCC. 

Commenting on the involvement of AxisBIC, Declan Fox, Senior Consultant, AxisBIC said “We are delighted to once again sponsor the UCC Computer Science Entrepreneurship Award in 2024. Being involved in this Award goes to the heart of what AxisBIC is about; identifying innovative entrepreneurs, providing support and essential business expertise to ensure they grow and succeed. The competition was very strong and we look forward to seeing more Entrepreneurs emerge from UCC’s computer science students.”

A total of nine students applied for the award, three were shortlisted for a Dragons Den type interrogation by Dan and Declan. Second and third place winners were Timothy McGrath and Sharon Coffee, both final year BSc Computer Science students, who also impressed the judges.

Timothy’s project seeks to innovate political canvassing through a cloud-based server and mobile application system in a project entitled ‘All Politics is Local: a system for improving door-to-door electoral canvasing’ whilst Sharon’s project CarbonTrack – sought to help people and government officials make buildings more energy-efficient.

The diversity of projects developed by the students demonstrates the quality of the education at UCC and provides students with valuable skills that can solve real life problems.

“Encouraging entrepreneurship amongst our students is very satisfying when you see the quality of the ideas developed by our students. Each year, the school’s final year students present their projects at a Final Year Project day usually held at the end of March or beginning of April. Industry is welcome to see the student’s projects and talk to them about their ideas. It is also an opportunity for students to impress industry and in many cases, it can be the start of a process of recruitment. It is a real showcase of the talent developed by the school. I am delighted to congratulate the winners of the AxisBIC Entrepreneurship Award and would also like to thank AxisBIC for their continued support to our students” Professor Utz Roedig, Head of School of Computer Science, UCC."

School of Computer Science and Information Technology

Scoil na Ríomheolaíochta agus na Teicneolaíochta Faisnéise

School of Computer Science and Information Technology, Western Gateway Building, University College Cork, Western Road, Cork, Ireland