Josh Lyle (Student)

Josh Lyle

Computers have been part of Joshua Lyle’s life since elementary school.

Growing up, the Alabama native who goes by “Josh” said he remembers his grandfather repairing cast-off models, then giving them to people who couldn’t afford one. What began as a simple grandfather-grandson bonding opportunity would morph over time into a passion the senior Mississippi State computer science major now pursues with a vengeance.

“He let me start playing around with Macs, and I had taken apart my first computer by fourth grade,” the university Dean’s List Scholar recalled recently. “By middle school, I was learning basic programming. It really was a good time to be a consumer because by doing one thing, you picked up six or seven other things you didn’t expect to learn.”

A Collierville, Tennessee, high school graduate, Lyle is planning a cybersecurity career after completing his Mississippi State degree. He credits his academic blossoming to the university’s nationally renowned cybersecurity program and the “invaluable” knowledge gained from Bagley College of Engineering faculty members with a wealth of professional experience.

Attending MSU as a member of the National Science Foundation’s Cyber Corps program, he has been given ample opportunities to delve deeply into the research aspects of his chosen field. In 2014, he completed a summer internship at St. Louis’ Washington University, followed by another the following year at the prestigious Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. He returns to Argonne this summer.

Researching solutions to better secure vehicle computer systems, smartwatches and Wi-Fi-equipped health monitoring devices are among Lyle’s post-graduation goals.

If hacked, all the systems could have devastating results, he said, in explaining how hackers conceivably could take control of a traveling vehicle and put its occupants in imminent danger. The need to keep secure personal financial and health data they hold also could become critical as smartwatches and other wearables become more sophisticated, he added.

“The lengths we rely on technology are amazing, but that technology needs to be scrutinized more than anything else because it could put lives in the balance,” Lyle emphasized.

When away from computers, the “anything mechanical” enthusiast said he keeps busy either rebuilding a 1969 Buick acquired during high school or cruising the countryside on the motorcycle he purchased last year.

“It’s a nice way to divide my time between staring at a computer and being outside,” Lyle said.