Creating Cybersecurity experts with not only deep technical skills, but also the capabilities to recognize and respond to complex and emergent behavior, as well as a “security mindset”, which includes mastery in using abstractions and principles, assessing risk and handling uncertainty, problem-solving, and reasoning; coupled with facility in adversarial thinking.


There is a significant shortage of qualified cybersecurity workers.

How do we grow students’ cybersecurity mindset?


Build students’ representational fluency in Cybersecurity domain.

Promote long-lasting learning results through Model- Eliciting Activities.

Scientific Impact

Does the use of multiple representations during instruction help students learn Cybersecurity concepts?

How is cognitive processing of cryptography impacted by the use of multiple representations?

Broader Impact

Discover a better way to teach complex concepts and principles in cybersecurity.

MEAs designs can be shared with the community. Findings from this project can shed lights on learning in other STEM fields.


Beckman, M. J. W., Dark, M. M. J., Kashyap, M. P. Bari, S., Wagstaff, S., Chen, Y., & Yang, B. Cognitive Processing of Cryptography Concepts: An fMRI Study. Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio.

Beckman, J., Bari, S., Chen, Y., Dark, M., & Yang, B. (2017, October). The Impacts of Representational Fluency on Cognitive Processing of Cryptography Concepts. In The LASER Workshop: Learning from Authoritative Security Experiment Results (LASER 2017) (pp. 59-67). USENIX Association.

Baijian Yang


Associate Professor of Computer and Information Technology at Purdue University. His recent research interests are in cybersecurity, cybersecurity education, big data security analysis, SDN, Internet of things, and cloud computing.

Melissa J Dark


W.C. Furnas Professor, Computer and Information Technology, Purdue Polytechnic Institute. She has been active in helping define the information assurance discipline and is currently leading a group that is developing the common body of knowledge in information security education.

Yingjie Chen


Assistant Professor in Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University. His research covers interdisciplinary domains of Information Visualization, Visual Analytics, Digital Media, and Human Computer Interaction.

Samuel S. Wagstaff


Professor of Computer Science and Mathmatics (courtesy) at Purdue University. His research interests are in the areas of cryptography, parallel computation, and analysis of algorithms, especially number theoretic algorithms.