Computer Science students chosen as Facebook security ambassadors

December 19, 2017

Facebook has selected two Mississippi State University students to join its security ambassador program.

Sophomores Natalie Larkin and David Mentgen, both students in the Bagley College of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), have been chosen to serve as ambassadors for the global social media corporation.

As security ambassadors, both Larkin and Mentgen will spend the upcoming spring semester working with Facebook’s eCrime cybersecurity division in Washington, D.C.

“The Department of Computer Science and Engineering is proud of Natalie and David, who both represent the MSU ideals of diversity, citizenship, leadership, and service,” said Sarah Lee, the department’s director of undergraduate studies and assistant clinical professor. “We are excited to see industry recognition of the quality of computing and cyber security students that are part of our program.”

Selected from a candidate pool of both undergraduate and graduate students, the opportunity for MSU students to work alongside Facebook cybersecurity experts was made available through recent involvement in Facebook’s University Partnership Program. Initiated by MSU associate professor Byron Williams, the program allows CSE students access to Facebook internships, campus visits and recruiting opportunities.

“I was ecstatic when I found out I got the internship,” said Larkin. “Working for Facebook has been a dream of mine ever since I became interested in computer science. I am most excited about the impact I will be making, and I can’t wait to work hard protecting Facebook’s users.”

During her initial two years of undergraduate study, Larkin has immersed herself in the cybersecurity community. The sophomore CSE student both founded and served as executive director of HackState, the first Major League Hacking hackathon in the state of Mississippi. The Maryland native also spent a year as a cyber operations specialist at HORNE Cyber in Starkville, Mississippi, and was named as National Runner-Up for the 2016 National Center for Women and Information Technology Award (NCWIT) for Aspirations in Computing.

For Mentgen, the opportunity to work with Facebook brings a new learning perspective, one from within the cybersecurity industry.

“I believe this experience working with Facebook will have an extremely positive impact on my academic career going forward,” said Mentgen. “I am planning to specialize in cyber security, so what better place is there to learn about application security than from one of the biggest companies around?”

The Shackouls Honors College student won first prize for Best IoT Project at MSU’s 2017 HackState competition, and he has worked as both a student researcher and a Botnet Detection researcher during his time at MSU.

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By: Amanda Meeler