Chair of Columbia’s student branch of the IEEE, Sammy Tbeile ’18, Engineering Creativity
May 24, 2018
For Sammy Tbeile ’18, computer engineering is all about the art of the science.
“Some people have this really strange misconception that engineering isn’t a creative field just because it’s heavily based in math and science,” Tbeile said. “But it takes an incredible amount of creativity to develop solutions to complex engineering problems, and you have a huge amount of freedom to become creative with your particular solution.”
The Brooklyn native’s primary research interests lie at the intersection of computer science and electrical engineering, where he explores how code translates to electrical signals and how to leverage computer hardware to maximize performance and security. Studying cybersecurity with Professor Suman Jana, he explored the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence to help identify and fix system vulnerabilities. Collaborating with Professor Martha Kim, head of the Columbia Architecture and Design (ARCADE) Lab, he helped develop an algorithm for creating more efficient embedded systems.
“There’s a magical feeling to developing an algorithm to solve a problem and then, after hours of work, seeing the solution manifest itself,” he said.
Tbeile, who is minoring in English and Comparative Literature, has relished collaborating with students from very different disciplines and backgrounds. As chair of Columbia’s student branch of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), he has helped organize the annual hardware hackathon MAKECU, which gives undergraduates from across Columbia and beyond just 24 hours and a standard circuits lab bench to brainstorm and build novel machines. This year’s was the largest yet, attracting over 200 competitors and “a huge variety of ideas,” he said.
In addition to helping host tech talks and recruiting events for IEEE, Tbeile serves as a tour captain with the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee, guiding visitors around campus. An active member of Columbia/Barnard Hillel, he is also lead developer for Good St., a charity that links subscribers to a variety of causes, and has interned as a software engineer for companies in Israel and New York.
After graduating this spring, Tbeile will relocate to Boston to research cutting-edge cyber analytics and decision systems in MIT Lincoln Laboratory’s cybersecurity division, working with partners in industry and government.
“I really enjoy the challenges provided by a constantly evolving field,” he said. “In many ways cybersecurity merges things from all of the other fields I’ve studied to try to piece together the thorough understanding necessary to properly evaluate a system.”