COOKEVILLE — Ambareen Siraj has been always been an advocate for diversity and inclusion. Now, the Tennessee Tech computer science professor is being rewarded for her efforts.
Siraj, who is the founding director of Tech’s Cybersecurity, Education, Research and Outreach Center (CEROC), has been named the recipient of the 2020 Claire L. Felbinger Award for Diversity and Inclusion by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.
“I have been working on diversity and inclusion for a long time in computing and especially cybersecurity,” said Siraj. “Most people don’t do things to get awards. They do things because they feel the need to do things and that’s the same for me. But, getting awards because society or the community has noticed, and getting recognized by your peers, always feels good.”
Since joining Tech’s College of Engineering in 2006, Siraj has taught various undergraduate and graduate security classes, specializing in cyber-physical systems security, network security, security education and workforce development. She has received three external grants totaling $7.6 million since 2012 and been recognized for her work, most recently in 2018, earning the CISSE Exceptional Leadership in Education Award.
ABET’s Claire L. Felbinger Award for Diversity and Inclusion recognized U.S.-based educational units, individuals, associations and firms for extraordinary success in achieving or facilitating diversity and inclusiveness in the technological segments of our society. Siraj is being honored by ABET for her leadership in establishing the Women in CyberSecurity annual conference and the Women in CyberSecurity Initiative, which have increased the participation of women in cybersecurity significantly.
“Through the WiCyS organization, one of our missions was to ensure inclusion and diversity in the cybersecurity workforce,” said Siraj. “Everyone should be equally represented. There should be no under-representation.”
Siraj has represented Tech well. Earlier this year, Siraj spent two days speaking at the Global Cybersecurity Forum in Saudi Arabia before testifying to the Subcommittee on Research and Technology, House Committee on Science, Space and Technology in Washington, D.C. She is also a member of the Tennessee Cybersecurity Advisory Council Workforce Development working group.
“It’s undeniable that my university has supported me,” said Siraj. “Without Tennessee Tech’s support, I would not have been able to do any of the things I have done over the years. I’m blessed to be part of a university that didn’t create a roadblock for me to be able to do all of these things.”
Siraj will be honored at the 2020 ABET Awards Celebration, which will be held as a virtual event on Saturday, Oct. 31. For more information, go to https://www.abet.org/awards/claire-l-felbinger-award-for-diversity/