November 3, 2020

New Faculty Spotlight: Santiago Torres Arias

Santiago Torres Arias
Santiago Torres Arias, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Hometown: Mexico City, Mexico 

What inspired you to get into engineering? 

I've always been of the "hacker mindset", I wanted to know how things worked by opening them up and figure out how they worked. In knowing how things work, you can also change how they behave, and that kept me trying to leverage this newfound "agency" on the mechanisms around us. Naturally, engineering was the way to turn this (sometimes destructive) passion into a formal discipline.

What drew you to Purdue ECE? 

My interaction with the Faculty here during my job interview was perhaps the biggest reason. I was not only very impressed with the research done (I feel that almost goes without saying), but the down-to-earth attitude of the faculty and their honest commitment on leaving a positive mark on the industry and society as a whole. That really resonated with me, as I'm strongly focused on doing practical systems security research. As I spend more months here, I can see how Purdue is a perfect place to develop research that improves the lives of people everywhere.

What are your research interests? 

I focus on making people's lives and interactions with technology *safer*. In concrete terms, I want to ensure that the way people create software (and hardware) does not compromise the security and privacy of its eventual users. Because of this, most of my research is geared towards securing the software supply chain, securing cyber-physical supply chains, software update systems, password storage mechanisms and open source software ecosystems.

What classes are you teaching this semester? 

I am teaching none this semester, but I'm super excited about the Open Source Software Senior Design offering that I've been preparing. Things are starting to shape for a very busy and exciting spring semester.

What do you like to do in your free time? 

I mostly play guitar and read. With the guitar, I like playing classical (I enjoy playing Fernando Sor and Matteo Carcassi a lot), as well as some math rock (I play TTNG and Covet when my fingers listen to me). As for reading, I'm currently about to start "My Uncle Napoleon" by Iraj Pezeshkzad (I really don't know what to expect of the book). Oh, and I also spend some time contributing to open source in my free time (although I do believe that there's some overlap between work and play in this department...)

Anything else you'd like the Purdue community to know about you?

I'm very excited to be here! It's been only a couple of months, but I'm really humbled and excited to be part of the community. Pandemics aside, it's been super gratifying to share space with not only faculty, but some students and staff as well, who have treated me as part of the community from day 0. I'm really looking forward to what the future holds for me here in Greater Lafayette and Purdue!