Hardware Security Made Easy

As an undergraduate at UW-Madison, Edward Tashjian began working with Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Azadeh Davoodi, whose research group tackles an array of problems surrounding integrated circuit design and manufacture.

“You’re a company that designs circuits, but unless you’re an Intel or a Samsung, you have to send it off to a foundry to be manufactured,” Tashjian says. “The concern is that someone might be putting additional hardware into your design that can circumvent your security. What we’re asking is, given a manufactured circuit, can we reverse-engineer it and find any hardware that differs from the original design?”

Tashjian earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering in 2013, and stayed on as a graduate student with some support from a Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship.

Now pursuing his master’s degree, Tashjian is continuing his work with Davoodi to create a sort of screening process to detect malicious tampering in the chip manufacturing process.

“One of the reasons I like hardware security is that it’s still growing and there’s not as much of an established discipline as there is in other areas,” Tashjian says. “It’s a lot to investigate.”

That type of investigation and innovation is made possible in large part to the support from loyal donors to the College of Engineering.