Kurt Rohloff - Associate Professor of Computer Science

Kurt Rohloff: Hello, my name is Kurt Roloff. I’m an associate professor of computer science here at NJIT. I’ve been here about six months. I just transitioned from industry. Although I’m a computer science professor, my educational background is as an electrical engineer, where he studied at Georgia Tech as an undergrad. I then went to the University of Michigan, where steady control systems and control theory to get my master’s degree and PhD. After Michigan, I went off to study for postdoc at the University of Illinois in the coordinated sciences laboratory. I did a short stint at Motorola down in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I did a short stint at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. Eventually I want up in industry at a company called BBN Technologies in Cambridge, Mass., which has subsequently been purchased by Raytheon. BBN Technologies was a very interesting place. It was basically the place where the Internet was invented. The first email implementations were built there. The first TCP implementations were designed there. It’s been primarily what’s called a DARPA contractor. DARPA is the Blue Sky R&D research funding agency of the United States Department of Defense. Technologies like stealth, like the Internet, like GPS were all invented with DARPA funding.

My work at BBN was primarily in the role as both a senior scientist and as what’s called the principal investigator, where I was the person who would develop ideas, take them to DARPA or Air Force research laboratory or affiliated funding agencies, and sell these ideas. I would then – with the funding I would get from DARPA, the FRL, or other customers – then go and build teams, develop technologies to solve some of the problems that are facing the Department of Defense nowadays. I was there for roughly about nine years, working on an array of technologies related to high-performance computing, related to cybersecurity, related to big data analytics. A number of DARPA programs I was involved with include IQs and arms and Proceed. Most prominently among those technologies I was developing was a DARPA program called Proceed, which was affiliated with the development of secure computing technologies – particularly homomorphic encryption, which is the focus of my research nowadays. I was leading the DARPA team that developed some of the early first implementation of homomorphic encryption and showed some of the early applications of it – both in software and in hardware. My time at DARPA was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it very much, and I wanted to continue along that work. So I saw an opportunity to come here at NJIT, and I basically jumped at it. Since then, I’ve been associate professor here. I’m founding a cybersecurity research Center. I’m the director of the lab, the focus is on applied encryption research. And have a team of students that works with me and my collaborators across the world to develop new implementations of homomorphic encryption. I still continue a lot of my research with industry. I continue a lot of my research with government, and I am continuing to execute on multiple DARPA activities.

I have students that are working this in multiple areas. I have students who are focusing both on implementation and on theory. The theory students are collaborating with other academics at other major institutes across the United States and the world. And the implementation students I have are building both for x86 architectures; commodity devices, like one’s laptop; mobile devices, like Android and iOS phones; and also high-performance devices, such as FPGAs and GPUs. Wrapping this altogether, I also have several students that are building tools, like a pilot of programming languages that can be used with these homomorphic encryption technologies. Looking forward, our goal is to develop all these technologies in an open source environment. We’re also working on that, where we’re establishing software repositories that can be used for general people to go download the technology that we’re developing. We hope to have our initial release within the coming months.