Thomas Fumularo, Tom Magnusson & G Leaden
Thomas Fumularo is a junior Computer Science student from New Hyde Park on Long Island, NY. G Leaden, a junior originally from Holden, ME, majors in Computer Science and minors in Cognitive Science, Cybersecurity, and Information Systems. Thomas, or Tom, Magnusson, a sophomore, is from Fairfield, CT, majoring, also, in Computer Science and minors in Information Technology, Information Systems, and Philosophy. Aside from their major, Tom, G, and Thomas all share a vigorous zeal for the technology industry that is demonstrated through ambitious projects created for the IBM joint study.
EARLY BEGINNINGS – Before enrolling at Marist, each of the boys had early interests in the realm of technology. Tom’s initial dive towards computer science began through a love of video games. His cites his favorite childhood memory as visiting with his next-door neighbor and getting together to play with the SEGA Genesis. Games such as Sonic the Hedgehog and a spray paint game stoked curiosity with him, but this spark did not fully form until he was a junior in high school.
While on a plane ride, he and a friend discussed coding to pass the time, and from there they vowed to learn the basics. Tom mostly credits his first programming lessons to a series of YouTube videos produced by Stanford, his favorite being CS106A. “It was the beginning of kind of a love for [computer science],” said Tom. “[My friend] was stringing along just to learn something, I couldn’t stop doing it from that point, when I learned about it I just wanted to keep working on it and find projects to do and stuff like that.”
Aside from the vast expanse of knowledge YouTube offered, Tom did not have many resources for computer science in his high school education. Instead, he focused on his passion for philosophy, a love which he upholds today. For G, however, he always knew he wanted to be involved in the world of programming. He recounted that he spent numerous hours playing Command and Conquer, a real-time strategy game, in addition to watching computers run graphic softwares and playing around with these machines provided by his dad, a fabric structure designer. Upon entering high school, G thought he wanted to be a lawyer, but that aspiration quickly fell through when he began computer science classes.
While in high school, G additionally acted as the captain of his school’s cybersecurity defense team as well as the captain of the robotics team for two years. Outside of the classroom, G enjoyed spending his time with family, his most endearing memory being the annual cousin’s trip to his aunt and uncle’s lake house in southern Maine. As for Thomas, he occupied most of his time playing video games such as League of Legends and Call of Duty, where he claims he was amongst the Top 10 players in the world. His mother, a software developer, got him started in the crux of elementary and middle school.
“I learned how to type before I learned how to write,” he laughed. When not coding or playing video games, Thomas spent much of his time as an athlete. He played baseball in elementary and middle school, only getting good at the sport in the seventh grade when, one game, he hit four home runs and a triple. But after sustaining an injury that shattered his ankle, Thomas could no longer play baseball and shifted his efforts to track and field in high school. Aside from sports, Thomas also acted as president of his school’s store and, with the help of some friends, performed SSL certifications and created a couple of hundred websites for paying customers
JOURNEY TO MARIST – Thomas recalls first meeting G in the Marian Hall common room. G was invited to hang out by a mutual friend, and this evolved into a nine-hour long League of Legends session. While walking down a hallway in the Hancock building, Tom bumped into Dr. Snyder, the Honors Program director and, through this interaction, was introduced to fellow Honors student, G Following, Tom met Thomas afterwards before his interview to become a researcher at the IBM joint study.
Aside from work, the boys are involved in numerous activities on campus. G credits most of his time being spent on schoolwork and his employment with the IBM joint study program. However, he also leads the Tea with TED event for the Honors Program, which is held biweekly in New Gartland Building A. Thomas is the current treasurer of the Marist Game Society and was elected to be president in the next Fall 2018 semester. His duties include planning the weekly meetings as well as dedicating eight hours a week to E-Sports, where he plays on the Hearthstone team and serves as captain of the team for Overwatch and coach for the League of Legends team. Additionally, Thomas also enjoys spending time watching the Marist sports game. He attends matches for basketball and softball, and he even stated that he has been present at every Marist football game since coming to campus.
Aside from his work life outside of campus, Tom spends most of his time working as the Deputy Chief Information Officer for Marist’s Student Government Association. As Deputy CIO, he leads the IT Council to work with cutting edge, industry-level standards to maintain the SGA website. He also enjoys partaking in intramural sports like badminton and, as of recently, volleyball.
WORK LIFE – G describes working at the IBM joint study as “a lot of bright minds trying to do fun things.” The IBM joint study provides Marist students with the opportunity to be both an employee and a researcher at IBM. They work on numerous, in-depth research projects with an IBM project manager and numerous Marist professors, such as Dr. Alan Labouseur. Thomas’ repertoire includes translating the coding of a program called GSTAR from scratch, working with an interface called LCARS that hosts other joint study projects, and, as of recently, delving into machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence, to prevent denial of service attacks on the system.
Tom is currently doing research with Dr. Labouseur in blockchain, a data structure often related to bitcoin that eliminates a third party when it comes to transactions. He is working to put claims that people have put out, such as that it is anonymous and more secure, to the test in a lab, in addition to making a clone of blockchain and a network to test the properties. G, with the help of Dr. Labouseur and another student named Marcus Zimmerman, spent most of his time developing an API honeypot. An API honeypot, as explained by G, acts as a low-hanging fruit for a cyber attacker. But when the attacker attempts to steal information from they honeypot, they are actually revealing their attack strategies to the network.
Honeypots have been around for a while, but, to G’s knowledge, his project was the first that integrated API technology, or the software that reports the attack signatures back. He was inspired to create this project after one of his professor’s servers was attacked multiple times. Proud of their work, G submitted his work on the API honeypot to the 8th NYIT Cybersecurity Conference in 2017 and the 2017 IBM TechConnect. The project was accepted to both conferences, but he ran into a problem: both TechConnect and NYIT occurred on the same day in two different cities. G and Marcus decided to travel to New York City to present their research at NYIT, while enlisting the help of Tom and Thomas to present at TechConnect in Poughkeepsie.
“Our project was really different compared to everyone’s,” said Thomas. “IBM is really focused on the mainframe so a lot of their projects were focused on solving problems there. A lot of people were interested in what we were doing, but they didn’t understand ‘what’ and ‘why.’”While the API honeypot project did not receive any accolades at TechConnect, the project did win first place in the undergraduate division. “It’s still kinda surreal, even today. We did this stuff as part of our job, we were doing it because we were asked to, but at the end of the day we didn’t really think anything was going to come of it,” said G. “I don’t know if there’s even a way I can articulate how it feels to be recognized with something like that.”
“I think the difference between the day in and day out that we experience in the joint study and this surreal recognition that we received for this kind of thing,” explained Tom. “We do our work, we come up with cool ideas we’re very passionate about it. But it’s different than when we get recognized for it. Typically, we do well and we encourage one another, but to be recognized on such a level of that disparity is surreal.”
WHERE ARE THEY HEADING – Both Thomas and G are interested in careers in cybersecurity. This summer, G will be leaving the IBM joint study for the upcoming summer and will instead be interning at Datto, a Data Integrity Company in Norwalk, CT. Thomas, on the other hand, will intern at IBM to hack and penetrate a what IBM claims to be “unhackable” mainframe, which is ultimately his dream job.
Tom, unlike is co-workers, has set his sights on becoming a software developer for Google. For the summer, he hopes to present his blockchain research at the ACM SIGCSE conference.
When asked about his thoughts on the students, Dr. Labouseur said, “[Tom] is smart, hard-working, and has a good sense of humor. He asks insightful, if occasionally stubborn, questions. G is intelligent, diligent, and has a good sense of humor. He’s a fine presenter. Thomas shows the best aspects of a Marist student. He excels in all situations with hard work, dedication, and a good-natured sense of humor. I wish I had more students like [Tom], G, and Thomas.”