With the ever growing threats of cyber-attacks there is a demand for experts to predict and counter such threats. Mitchell Grout of Hamilton, who is heading in that direction, is studying towards a Master of Cyber Security at the University of Waikato. Already with a double major in Mathematics and Computer Science, his research this year is about the detection of anomalous data and its application to the detection of cyber-threats. Improvements in machine learning have allowed for automatic detection of anomalous events, which can then be employed to detect strange patterns online, such as attacks on networks.
Mitchel was present at Parliament on 8th May to receive a $10,000 Freemasons Post Graduate Scholarship from the Grand Master of Freemasons New Zealand, Mark Winger. After graduating, Mitchell intends to work in the industry as a security analyst or consultant. He hopes to use his knowledge and skills to help people to stay cyber-secure by mitigating risk, and by minimising the risk of data leakage and cyber-attack.
Programming since the age of 13, Mitchell’s passion for cybersecurity has led him to this year, where he is doing practical research with guidance from the both the Cyber Security Researchers of Waikato (CROW) and members of the Gallagher Group. As a top-achieving university scholar Mitchell has been awarded the Alan Turing Prize, the Hilbert Prize in Mathematics and the Dean’s Award for three consecutive years. In 2016 and 2017 he took part in the New Zealand Cyber Security Challenge, and in 2018 helped with its administration. He has also assisted the university with tutoring for a myriad of mathematics courses.
As a research assistant at the University, Mitchell has been writing code to allow for the efficient generation of mathematical structures. He also rewrote the software for Tuatara Turing Machine Simulator, a program used as part of courses at the university. With a passion for languages, Mitchell has also studied Japanese and is currently studying Korean. With his skills in cybersecurity, coupled with his ability to master languages, a world of opportunity will open up to him
Now in its 41st year and the largest privately funded scholarship programme in New Zealand, Alan was one of 28 scholars, from New Zealand’s eight universities, to receive scholarships valued in total at $200,000. Many of the previous recipients have gone on to reach high office in prestige institutions and companies, both in New Zealand and many overseas countries. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was a Freemasons University Scholar in 2001.
In addressing the gathering, which included the families and whanau of the recipients, the Grand Master, when congratulating the recipients, spoke about the history and activities of modern freemasons lodges, and stressed that they were not the secret organisations of the past. In concluding Mark Winger said, “The recent events in Christchurch are etched strongly in our minds, not only the tragedy itself but the response of our people and the international reaction. The real voice of New Zealand has been heard and I urge you, the talented leaders of tomorrow, to have pride in your country and carry on the conversation of peace and inclusion both here and wherever else in the world your studies may take you.”
Benevolence and helping those in need is a cornerstone in Freemasonry, and every member is encouraged to become involved in charitable activities. The Freemasons Charity, which had its New Zealand origins in the late 19th Century has, through the generosity of its members, built up a fund exceeding $30 million. The investment returns enable it to disburse funds in several ways. As well as university scholarships, now in their forty-first year, The Freemasons Charity activities cover relief of need, matching grants on lodge community projects, medical research and fellowships.