An Interview with our April DURA Winner, Andrew Hughes

This month we met with Distinguished Undergraduate Researcher, Andrew Hughes, who conducts research with Dr. Amro Awad in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Dr. Awad leads the Secure and Advanced Computer Architecture (SACA) Research Group, a research lab located at UCF. We sat down with Andrew to talk about his undergraduate research experiences.

Andrew first got involved with research after being inspired by a friend of his who was already doing research. That gave him the motivation to want to get involved in a research project. Andrew decided to stay after in his Computer Architecture class to have a conversation with Dr. Awad about his research. This led to an offer to work in the lab which has led to a successful journey conducting research at UCF.

Andrew’s research journey includes trips to New York City twice for Cyber Security Week and to Washington D.C. Andrew enjoys knowing the work he showcases is being used in the real world to solve real problems.

Andrew’s journey with research comes with some tough moment; but what has made Andrew push through those moments to be so successful? His answer is quite simple: balance. Andrew recommends balancing your time so it does not affect the quality of your work. Furthermore, consistency is required to reach your goals and don’t be afraid to talk to your professor.

“They’re obviously interested in research- that’s why they’re here. It’s the easiest way to strike up a conversation.”

Andrew now leads the way for new undergraduates joining Dr. Awad’s lab. Andrew serves as a mentor to newer students and is often asked by his mentor to show them the ropes. They now provide new motivation for him as he looks to develop successful undergraduate researchers.

Andrew’s research journey has opened his eyes to a world he did not know existed. He explained that before beginning research his plan was to go straight into industry after graduation, but is now considering to stick with academia and pursue a Ph.D. because he loves research so much!

You never know where your journey with research may take you. Andrew started his journey with a conversation with his professor and now has much higher goals than he ever imagined. That goes to show the power of talking with your professors and following through with your goals.