Some college students spend their summers taking vacations and enjoying well-earned downtime. Kayla Robb, a mathematics major minoring in computer science, spent hers working to solve cryptographic problems important to national security.
Robb was one of about two dozen students selected from universities nationwide to participate in the National Security Administration (NSA) Director’s Summer Program. The program brings undergraduate students together to collaborate with each other and with NSA researchers on classified, mission-critical problems.
“Kayla is a super-talented mathematician with really strong coding skills to boot,” says Theresa Jorgensen, mathematics associate professor. “This is a very elite research program, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for Kayla.”
For Robb, an appreciation of math runs in the family. Homeschooled for all of her pre-college education, she was taught by her mother, who was a dual mathematics and computer science major in college.
“I honestly never had much interest in math until I started learning calculus. It was so different from the computational math I’d done until that point, and it made me want to see what else in math I hadn’t explored,” Robb says. “Math is very beautiful and intuitive, but it also has so many varied applications.”