Mechanical engineering PhD student Lida Yan ’20G is a finalist in the 2023 Hack3d Challenge, a manufacturing cybersecurity competition hosted by New York University. 

The competition “serves to raise awareness and generate discussion in engineering and research communities about security in the additive manufacturing field,” according to the Hack3d website. Competitors learn and apply skills in “graphics programming, file manipulation, and reverse engineering while gaining an understanding of the additive manufacturing supply chain.” The international event is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

Yan and Xingye Feng, a master's student studying data science at Columbia University, are one of six teams to reach the finals. In the qualification round, teams were challenged to reconstruct a gear from a provided dataset of more than 700 sky-scanning images. 

“From these images, we needed to re-create a detailed 3D model of a gear,” explains Yan. “Think of it like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, but digitally and in 3D. The connection to cybersecurity is significant because if someone can reverse engineer a product like we did with the gear, they can potentially re-create and misuse proprietary designs. This challenge serves as a reminder of the importance of securing our digital blueprints and understanding the vulnerabilities in the additive manufacturing supply chain.”

Yan conducts experimental and simulation research within Lehigh’s Energy Research Center and works on design and analysis techniques for energy-related systems, including thermal energy storage. He is also a member of the Group for Interfacial and Nanoengineering (GIAN) at Lehigh. 

The final challenge will be announced Nov. 9 and the competitors will have one day to complete their submission, with final presentations given at the CSAW’23 conference on Nov. 10. 

The competition experience has given Yan “a renewed respect for the intersection of engineering and cybersecurity,” he says. “As we move forward to the finals, I’m excited to apply what we’ve learned and take on a new challenge.”

Lida Yan, PhD student, Lehigh University

Mechanical engineering PhD student Lida Yan will compete in the finals of the 2023 Hack3d Challenge during CSAW’23.