Fostering cybersecurity entrepreneurship

Ryan Speers '11 and Ricky Melgares '11, founders and partners at River Loop Security, a consulting firm that specializes in solving complex cybersecurity challenges, met at the Trust Lab. Their company was recently acquired by Two Six Technologies, "a high-growth technology company providing products and expertise to national security customers", and continues to provide security consulting services to commercial and federal clients.

Sergey Bratus and Sean Smith advised their senior honors theses. The Trust Lab has a strong tradition of encouraging undergraduate research and fostering entrepreneurship, says Bratus.

"We have the Kemeny tradition," says Bratus. Mathematician and computer scientist John G. Kemeny, president of Dartmouth College from 1971-1980, opened up access for undergraduates to the best computing technology of the day. "At the time, this was a huge distinguisher between Dartmouth and many other places," says Bratus.

At the Trust Lab, expensive, state-of-the-art technology are available to students. They also are given access and support to travel around the US and overseas to attend security conferences. "Courses are important, but professionally, many important things are learned outside of classrooms", says Bratus.

He recalls that Speers and Melgares hit the ground running when they joined the lab. For their senior thesis, they developed a tool that that very soon became prominent as the go-to open-source tool for exploration of a particular radio standard in the internet of things. He was certain that they would benefit from exposure to the very best the industry had to offer.

"We were encouraged to do novel research instead of just coursework," says Speers. "Meeting people at conferences, leveraging Sergey's network in the hacker community, and presenting novel research gave us a clear head start in the space and relationships we leveraged throughout our company's growth."

River Loop Security's first client found Ryan by reading his senior honor's thesis and reached out to see if he could assist them on their work. As the expertise showed and work grew, Ryan founded the company with Ricky and an electrical engineer, Jeff Spielberg '10 Th'11. At that time, the Computer Science and Engineering departments weren't well connected, and the connection to Jeff had been formed outside the classroom through participation in Dartmouth Emergency Medical Services together. "We are excited to now see the departments moving closer together and hope there is more natural collaboration between students in these highly complementary disciplines" says Spielberg.