During the fall 2022 semester, Tyler Rebischke was named an outstanding senior in computer engineering at Iowa State University. Rebischke was a student researcher at the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE).
Beginning in 2019, his first year at Iowa State, Rebischke worked on the CSAFE project EviHunter, a suite of analysis tools that automatically evaluate where and how application data is stored on Android mobile phones and the remote servers they use. Yong Guan, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, leads the project.
Rebischke said that he wanted to join the project after reading about it and talking with Guan. “I realized that this project would help me to make an impact early on in my Iowa State career, and the project had much broader benefits that could impact the forensic sciences,” he said.
His main task on the project was the development of several app store web crawlers. Rebischke explained that these crawlers automate the downloads of millions of Android applications from various app stores. The crawlers will be used to collect apps in the future for examination by the EviHunter tool.
Guan said Rebischke’s task was quite challenging due to frequent updates and changes of app stores. “Tyler is a great person to work with. Smart and hardworking,” Guan said. “He led the team and managed to develop solutions to overcome these challenges.”
Rebischke said this research could streamline the evidence-collection process for forensic examiners. “EviHunter provides a tool for examiners to collect potential evidence from a suspect’s phone in a time-efficient and repeatable manner,” he said.
While working on the EviHunter project, Rebischke gained valuable skills, including the importance of working on a team.
“I had very little experience working on teams for software projects when I entered college, and the EviHunter project helped me learn the importance of being on a team and how that can help on a complex project,” he said.
Additionally, he learned how to take code that has been previously written and improve it or make it functional again. Rebischke explained that there are not really any courses that have students look at code that has already been written and try to improve it. Almost all classes have students write code from scratch.
Through the EviHunter project, Rebischke had hands-on experience working with previously written code, learning about its functionality and then attempting to improve that code.
Rebischke said what he liked best about working with the EviHunter team was the team itself.
“Everyone who has been on the team over the years, from Dr. Guan to the Ph.D. students to other undergraduate students, have always been more than willing to help and make sure that we were learning and growing throughout the process,” he said.
Rebischke also noted that being on a long-term project and seeing it grow and change over the years had been super rewarding and was an experience that he would never have gotten through classes alone.
Rebischke is now a software engineer at Boeing in St. Louis, Missouri.
Read more about Rebischke’s time at Iowa State: https://news.engineering.iastate.edu/2022/12/06/tyler-rebischke-outstanding-senior-in-computer-engineering/.
Learn more about CSAFE’s work on digital evidence and find discipline-specific publications and webinars at https://forensicstats.org/digital-evidence/.