Engineers for the World (E4TW) Fellowship

The Division of Engineering Science and The Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs has one position available for an Engineering Science student completing Year 2 or Year 3.

The Citizen Lab

The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary research laboratory that investigates the intersection of human rights, security, and information technology. Based at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, we use a mixed methods approach that combines techniques from network measurement, information security, and the social sciences for researching and documenting practices and technologies that impact the openness and security of digital communications and pose threats to human rights.

Students from Engineering Science have been placed with the Citizen Lab for a summer position since 2007. The Engineering Science E4TW fellow will have the opportunity to contribute to ongoing research projects within the general themes described below. The specific summer project will be determined based on the student’s interests and strengths and current research priorities at the Citizen Lab. The Division of Engineering Science will provide $3000 in funding to the student that will be matched by The Citizen Lab for a total of $6000.

 What you can work on

Theme: Measuring Internet filtering and network interference

Problem Space: Information is censored and disrupted by state actors and private companies at the network layer (e.g., network shutdowns, network throttling, Internet filtering, etc.) and the application layer (e.g., content filtering and moderation, government requests for content removal, etc).

Research Objectives: Develop methods and software tools for identifying how content is restricted at the network and application level. Collaborate with social scientists to understand the impacts of these controls on human rights.

Theme: Mobile Application Privacy and Security

Problem Space: Mobile applications have become a central means for civil society to communicate, organize, and mobilize. Applications that have amassed huge user populations in some regions of the world remain largely understudied by security researchers leaving users with limited information on their relative privacy and security. 

Research Objectives: Evaluate security and privacy issues in mobile applications with high user bases in communities of interest that have received minimal research attention. When applicable, outreach to companies to present concerns around security and privacy vulnerabilities. Present findings in accessible ways to help users make informed decisions about the tools they use.

The research reports below are recent examples of projects done with E4TW Fellows:

Citizen Lab, Remembering Liu Xiaobo: Analyzing censorship of the death of Liu Xiaobo on WeChat and Weibo, July 2017, https://citizenlab.ca/2017/07/analyzing-censorship-of-the-death-of-liu-xiaobo-on-wechat-and-weibo/

Citizen Lab, Iraq Information Controls Update: Analyzing Internet Filtering and Mobile Apps, July 24 2014, https://citizenlab.org/2014/07/iraq-information-controls-update-analyzing-internet-filtering-mobile-apps

Citizen Lab, Asia Chats: LINE and KakaoTalk Disruptions in China, July 10, 2014, https://citizenlab.org/2014/07/line-kakaotalk-disruptions-china/

 Who we are looking for

Candidates should have some computer programming proficiency, experience documenting designs and implementations, and a general understanding of TCP/IP and related protocols. Knowledge and experience in any of the following skills and areas is relevant to many of our projects and highly desirable, but not necessarily required: Python, SQL, web technologies (e.g. HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Django or any other web framework), mobile development (Android or iOS), data analysis tools such as R or Pandas, course work or interest in networking or operating systems. We encourage students with general interests in information security, technology policy, and global affairs to apply. The fellowship is a learning opportunity and will expose the student to a range of research methods and skills for technical projects grounded in current political issues. Eligible students will have a mature attitude and ability to work well as part of a team.

How to Apply

If you’re interested in this position, please submit a CV/Resume along with a cover letter by email to Scott Sleeth, Engineering Science Curriculum Officer, at curric.engsci@ecf.utoronto.ca by Friday, March 30th, 2018 at 9:00am, explaining why you’d like to work with the Citizen Lab this summer and highlighting any relevant professional experience, course work, and personal projects and interests that relate to the research areas and skill sets described.