Pressprich Works to Secure Wireless Networks

Carl Pressprich stands with physics faculty member David Seeley outside the Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Carl Pressprich stands with Albion physics professor David Seely outside the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

October 21, 2013

Carl Pressprich arrived at Albion College with little experience in lacrosse, but through determination the former football player has become one of the top players in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

A physics major who is starting his third and final year in Albion’s dual-degree program in engineering, Pressprich is using that same determination and work ethic in an internship that has given him responsibility as well as an opportunity to expand his knowledge base.

The Father Gabriel Richard (Ann Arbor) product is spending the fall semester on a 16-week experience at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee through the Scientific Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program. SULI operates under the auspices of the Oak Ridge Science Semester (ORSS) program, which is run by the Great Lakes Colleges Association. A member of the Measurement Science and Systems Engineering department, Pressprich is writing computer programming language for a project focused on developing an intelligent security system for wireless networks that maintain and operate the electric grid.

“I am spending most of my time programming devices, which can then form networks,” Pressprich said of the internship that started Aug. 23 and runs through mid-December. “I am also hacking into these networks (on purpose) to show how serious a cyber-attack on a sensor network is. I'll eventually work on the software/hardware of the system, which will authenticate good devices and weed out imposters on a given network.”

“I knew there was a lot of responsibility when the mentor outlined the project,” Pressprich added. “I’m supposed to teach a doctor of electrical engineering what I’ve learned. It is cool to be given so much responsibility.”

Despite all the work he’s doing at Oak Ridge, Pressprich was quick to note that his engineering career may turn in a different direction.

“I still don’t know if programming is my game, but it is interesting to learn,” Pressprich said, adding that he still hopes to work with Albion faculty on research that would expose him to projects in mechanical engineering. “This is a good experience for me, and it’s practical in my field. It has been fun to get hands-on experience.”

Dedicated to the Albion Men’s Lacrosse Program

Among the benefits of the SULI experience is the opportunity to work in a community of professional scientists.

“Everybody is an expert in their field,” Pressprich said. “My roommates are computer scientists, and they spend their day working on super computers.”

While gaining respect for the scientific community and noting the importance of fulfilling his research obligation while on the internship at Oak Ridge, Pressprich said his dedication to the Briton men’s lacrosse program has not wavered. The Britons, the league runner-up in 2013, hope to take the final step to ascend to the MIAA championship in the spring, and they feel good about their progress after taking down Grand Valley State and Michigan State in recent scrimmages to complete the non-traditional segment of the season.

“This is the first time I haven’t been participating in a sport in the fall, and it is weird not getting to know the first-year players in the program,” Pressprich said. “I wake up at 5:30 because I’ve always set a high standard for myself in terms of conditioning. I’m trying to put my work in here.

“Lacrosse is a communication-heavy sport, and if I’ve learned anything that will translate to the field, it’s being able to count on your teammates to get the work done.”

Looking Ahead

Pressprich will transfer to an engineering school and complete both a bachelor’s degree from Albion and an engineering degree from the partner institution. He says the University of Michigan is his first choice and the practical experience at Oak Ridge should set him apart from other applicants.

“I’m a pretty good candidate for engineering school,” Pressprich said. “Having experience at a national lab is a big deal, and it is highly valued in industry (and academically).”