Mahmoud joined Tech’s faculty in 2013 because of the cybersecurity program

Cookeville – The 2023 winner of the Caplenor Faculty Research Award at Tennessee Tech University is a busy man. Aside from winning that prestigious award, he has also won the nationally competitive Fulbright United States Scholar Award. Mohamed Mahmoud, associate professor in the electrical and computer engineering department, won the Caplenor award for his research involving cybersecurity.

His research includes devising protocols and schemes to protect the security of emerging wireless networks and preserve citizens’ privacy.

“It is a big honor to win such a prestigious award, especially the competition at the university level,” Mahmoud said. 

The Caplenor Faculty Research Award, established in 1984 in honor of the late Charles Donald Caplenor, former Associate Vice President for Research and Dean of Instructional Development, is awarded annually to one member of the Tech faculty for outstanding research accomplished while employed at the university.

Mahmoud joined Tech’s faculty in 2013 because of the cybersecurity program and has witnessed not only the growth in research but also in achieving higher education standards across the board. 

“My research area is cybersecurity and during my interview, I saw that Tech has a main research focus in cybersecurity,” Mahmoud said. “I see the big improvement the university was able to achieve during these years. Our ranking has elevated from Master institution to a Ph.D. institution. I see a lot of focus on conducting cutting edge research and securing external grants in addition to providing high standard education.”

In his time at Tech, he has created an exceptional record of peer-reviewed publications and competitive external research grants. He has been the recipient of 11 competitive research grants: four from the National Science Foundation, five from the Qatar Foundation, one from the National Security Agency, and one from the Ministry of Education of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

These grants represent total research funding of $6 million, of which Tech’s share was $2 million. With these funds, he has supported 10 Ph.D. students, according to Allen MacKenzie, professor and chair of the electrical and computer engineering department. In addition, through two NSF grants, he has supported 60 undergraduate students, helping to develop the future cybersecurity workforce in the U.S.

“I firmly believe that my job as a faculty member is helping students, graduate or undergraduate, to succeed. I feel happy, satisfied and proud when I see my students succeed,” Mahmoud said. “My former students are currently faculty members in different universities in the USA. I am collaborating with them and helping and advising them.”

His research focuses on three main areas: self-driving vehicles, electric vehicle communications and smart power grid communication networks. In the self-driving vehicles research area, Mahmoud has been devising security protocols and schemes for the future automated transportation systems. In electric vehicle communications, Mahmoud has devised several communication schemes for power injection, dynamic charging and charging coordination applications. 

In the smart power grid research area, Mahmoud has made a leading attempt to investigate the efficiency and security of certificate revocation for Automatic Metering Infrastructure communications. 

Mahmoud has also developed three graduate courses closely related to his research. He has excelled in student advisement, according to MacKenzie, and his students are well-published. Some of his former Ph.D. students have been able to secure faculty positions at top educational institutions across the nation. 

He was the 2017 recipient of the Tech Rising Renaissance Engineer Faculty Scholar Award. Additionally, Mahmoud has won the Wings Up 100 Research Achievement Award, given to Tech faculty who activated at least $100,000 in external research grants in one year in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

“I am happy here for sure, we have wonderful students,” Mahmoud said. “I received a lot of support and guidance from the electrical and computer engineering department, college of engineering and centers.”

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar program is administered by the Department of State, and aims to strengthen relations with other countries through exchanging students and scholars. College and university faculty, administrators and researchers build their skills and connections, gain valuable international insights, and return home to share their experiences with their students and colleagues. 

“Because of this award, I am spending this semester in Qatar, a small country in the middle east close to Dubai,” Mahmoud said.

Mahmoud said the future of the electrical and computer engineering program at Tech is bright with increasing interest and visionary leadership. 

“The electrical and computer engineering program is one of the most enrolled programs in the college of engineering. There is an increasing interest from students to join the department,” Mahmoud said. “Our current department chair, Dr. Allen MacKenzie, has a good vision for upgrading the curriculum of the department and increasing the scholarly activities.” 

The new Ashraf Islam Engineering Building will also be a valuable resource for the engineering department and researchers, according to Mahmoud. It will be a student-centered interdisciplinary smart building used by all departments in the college. 

“This is really a big addition to the department. I would like to thank everyone who worked to make this dream a reality,” Mahmoud said. “We will have a good research infrastructure that will definitely support my research.” 

For more information on the Caplenor Faculty Research Award visit, and for information about the electrical and computer engineering department visit

Photo courtesy of Tennessee Tech.

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