Can I TA CY 3740 / CY 5770?


Foremost, please do NOT email me. That does nothing. I won't respond.

I have very specific needs from my TAs. You will be tasked with assisting students 1:1 during labs and office hours, as well as guiding discussions online every day. Therefore, it's crucial that you have hands-on exploitation experience.

I prioritize applications in this order:

  1. Students already taken my courses. The more challenges completed, the better.
  2. Students taken CY 5770 with Engin or Wil.
  3. Everybody else who can demonstrate systems security experience.

I immediately reject applicants who don't have a practical security background. Practical security background means discovering your own vulnerabilities and crafting your own exploits, NOT vulnerability management with Black Duck. If you aren't comfortable with those technical details, you are below the bargaining range. I hate to exclude you, but ensuring that students learn effectively takes the top priority. I can't train TAs from scratch while simultaneously performing my teaching tasks to spec.

Even if you are an excellent fit, I get a widely variable 0 to 4 TA slots depending on class size, so you may not get picked. Have a plan B.

Here's how to apply:

  1. Resist the urge to email me.
  2. Apply through the normal hiring channels.
  3. Were you my student in a previous class?
    • YES? You are all set. No need to provide a resume. Leave blank the silly questions about why you want to be a TA and other irrelevancies; you aren't required to explain yourself and I won't read them.
    • NO? Read the course description here and present evidence that you are knowledgeable in the ways of systems attacks and defenses covered there. Don't email me! Add the evidence to your application.

I'll expect you to be available during class hours in person. Also notice that I always teach late evening hours. Check the course schedule and make sure you can make it before you apply.

In return, you can expect from me a fulfilling TA season and the opportunity to max out your pay hours.

I applied for a TA position. When do I hear back?

I don't know. That's an HR question.

Can I TA and co-op/intern at the same time?

Also an HR question.

Can I do a PhD with you?


I'm not a full-time tenure-track professor and therefore I cannot hire or fund PhD candidates on my own. You will have to look elsewhere. Northeastern has one of the largest and highest quality security faculty pools in the area; there is no shortage of opportunities. After you secure your formal position and funding, I'd be happy to discuss research and mentor you, as long as your official advisor agrees to it.

Can I do a directed study/research/reading course with you for credit?

No. Ditto above, not a full-time professor. The department has made it clear that this is not doable.

My advisor says I can do a directed study/research/reading course with you for credit.

They are wrong.

I read this FAQ and sent you an email describing in excrutiating detail my interest in working with you.

You are now on a list of people I will never work with.

My question isn't answered here. Can I send you an email?

If it's truly not covered here, ask away. I am not a monster.

Can you write me a recommendation letter?

If you have worked with me on a research project or TA'd for me: Maybe. Let's chat.

If you only took my classes: No.

"They got an A" is the kiss of death that guarantees your letter goes straight in the trash, and there's no higher praise I can offer given the context of my courses. My letters will hurt your application, and I won't waste my time writing you a bad letter even if you have masochistic tendencies. Go to professors or co-op managers with whom you had a long-term research or project relationship.

I will not reconsider this policy. So please don't ask.

Can I get a referral for <your workplace>?

Only if you meet one of the below conditions.

If you qualify, email me with links to specific job posts BEFORE you start your application.

Can I connect with you on LinkedIn?

Yes. But I'll ignore you if I've never met you.

Can I connect with you on other social networks?

Absolutely! In fact, I challenge you to do that. If you can find me, you've earned it.