What is it like to be a MSc&T student? Fadi in Cybersecurity


Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Fadi El Bejjani, I am Lebanese and I relocated to France in 2019 to pursue a master’s degree in engineering. The building block of my education was at the Collège Notre-Dame de Jamhour where I completed the French and Lebanese baccalaureates with emphasis on mathematics. Then, I joined the American University of Beirut (AUB) for a bachelor degree of computer and communications engineering. I was always fascinated by the field of cybersecurity which led me to join this program at École Polytechnique.

Why did you choose to study at École Polytechnique?

École Polytechnique is known worldwide to be one of the most prestigious engineering schools. Moreover, the innovative approaches in its cyber security program were a clear evidence for me that this master’s will equip me with the necessary tools to face the daily challenges in a variety of industries.

I was even more motivated to apply to the master’s program they offer as it is taught in English for two reasons. First, I knew this would create a diverse and enriching on-campus experience as it attracts international students. Second, fluency in English gives more opportunities to work abroad in the future.

Finally, I always wanted to live in France and more specifically in the incredible and cosmopolitan city of Paris and this played a major role in taking my final decision.

In your opinion, what are the main assets of the Cybersecurity: Threats and Defenses Master’s program?

The cybersecurity program offers very rich and diverse course materials. Some of these courses are taught in partnership with Telecom SudParis and Quarkslab. In addition, the program is spread over a two-year (four semesters) period. During each summer, you have the opportunity to complete an internship, which is an amazing enrichment for your professional career. Conversely, a research path is also possible and our professors have very strong connections with research labs.

What do you think of the program structure?

As I mentioned earlier, the program structure is very rich. Each semester, you have a variety of three to four major courses, a management and innovation course, a humanity course, a language course where you have the opportunity to learn a new language from scratch and finally a sports course. Regarding the internships, you are encouraged to do the first one in the research field so that you strengthen your cybersecurity foundations and for the second year, you are given the freedom to do an industry or research-oriented internship.

The first semester is an introductory one where you review and strengthen your basis in the computer field (architecture, networks and distributed systems), plus you get an introduction to cryptography.

The second semester gets even more interesting as you really dive in the cybersecurity material with networking security, advanced cryptography and information systems security which give us a very interesting overview of the “Capture The Flag” challenges that are renowned in the cybersecurity domain.

The second year focuses on embedded systems’ security, blockchain, reverse engineering (which is given by Quarkslab) and secure programming, all giving you a very deep and complete view of the cybersecurity field.

Could you please tell us more about your promotion and classmates?

I have 5 classmates. One of them is from Brazil, another one from England, and two from France. Though we have quite different backgrounds, we succeeded in forming a very cohesive team who help each other when necessary and who also know how to have fun when given the opportunity.

Moreover, the courses are in common with the students following the engineering curriculum of École Polytechnique. These students are usually younger than us but they are also very friendly and helpful and they organize a lot of interesting student activities in the respective clubs called “binets” that you can join.

In conclusion, you really have no trouble integrating the campus life.

Do you have any favourite subject(s)?

One of my favourite topics is information systems security where we are introduced to the various vulnerabilities and attack vectors in the cybersecurity world and learn a practical approach by solving “root-me” challenges. A second course I really enjoyed is Network Security. Having a networking background, I was very keen to learn about the security risks that are present in this field. Finally, I would give an honourable mention to the reverse engineering and embedded systems’ security courses which I found to be very interesting.

Where did you do your internship last year? What about this year?

Last year, I had an internship as a cybersecurity engineer at Protectline, one of Orange’s subsidiaries. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, my internship was put on hold. Instead, I did a research with my cybersecurity professors about the contact tracing technologies used to reduce new potential contaminations of Covid-19. I also took the opportunity during the confinement to obtain a renowned cybersecurity certification called “Security+”.

This year, I will be doing my internship as a cybersecurity consultant at Mazars and I am very excited for this new opportunity.

What would you like to do after your Master’s degree?

After my master’s degree, I plan to work as a cybersecurity consultant, mixing both the technical and business sides of cybersecurity while working with large groups of co-workers and having a lot of interactions with our clients. Cybersecurity engineering positions like working in security operations centers would also be an interesting career path for me.

Any advice for future applicants for the Cybersecurity: Threats and Defenses program?

I would recommend future applicants to have an overview of the different programming languages such as C, Java and Python. A good mathematical foundation would also be helpful. In addition, I would personally advise you to always be curious and patient while solving problems since you must always think out of the box to excel in the cybersecurity field. Finally, I would really recommend you go for this program for all the knowledge you will gain and for all the opportunities that École Polytechnique can open up for you. Best of luck!