2016 Rising Star Awards

Matthew Derenski

IT Cybersecurity Engineer, Office of the CIO, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA

Meet the rest of the Rising Stars

2016 Rising Stars
Click here for profiles of all the 2016 winners.

Matthew Derenski got into technology as a kid — literally. “I’ve always kind of been interested in computers since I was little, mostly taking them apart and destroying them,”he said.

He expected to continue down the path of computer networking, but that all changed afterhe transferred from community college to a four-year college to study IT. A professor connected Derenski with a summer job at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which ledto a part-time job at the lab while Derenski finished college. After he graduated, the lab hired him for a cyber security position.

Derenski took on the management of JPL’s log system for security problems “and then just started suggesting improvements to it, improving the process,” he said.

His boss then tasked him with deploying full disk encryption across JPL. Next, he transitioned to cloud computing, and he’s been there ever since.

Derenski led the effort to establish secure, rapid cloud-based IT infrastructure access,provisioning and billing for the lab’s multi-cloud computing environment. As a result,current and future space flight missions and projects have benefited from secure and reliable yet inexpensive computing power, which has also allowed JPL to curb its demand for dedicated data centers.

Derenski is also credited with dramatically speeding up the deployment of new programs and systems and promoting on-demand computing, which increases efficiency and lowers costs.

Colleagues attribute his success in large part to his can-do attitude.

“The characteristics that underlie all of his work activities are a sort of steadiness and thoughtfulness tempered by flexibility,” said Stephen O’Hearn, manager of engineering and project management at JPL. “He is always prepared to be challenged and consider those challenges, changing his position when appropriate.”

About the Author

Sean Carberry is a former FCW staff writer who focused on defense, cybersecurity and intelligence.


Featured

  • Contracting
    8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego

    DHS contractors face protests – on the streets

    Tech companies are facing protests internally from workers and externally from activists about doing for government amid controversial policies like "zero tolerance" for illegal immigration.

  • Workforce
    By Mark Van Scyoc Royalty-free stock photo ID: 285175268

    At OPM, Weichert pushes direct hire, pay agent changes

    Margaret Weichert, now acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, is clearing agencies to make direct hires in IT, cyber and other tech fields and is changing pay for specialized occupations.

  • Cloud
    Shutterstock ID ID: 222190471 By wk1003mike

    IBM protests JEDI cloud deal

    As the deadline to submit bids on the Pentagon's $10 billion, 10-year warfighter cloud deal draws near, IBM announced a legal protest.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.