February 18, 2021
In honor of Engineers Week, we’re posting a throwback to last year’s Future Engineers Problems of the Day. Join us next week for all new engineering-themed Problems of the Day for #EWeek2021!

Today's Problem: Systems and Software Engineering

The work systems engineers do overlaps with, supports and influences numerous fields of engineering and data science, making it a great example of how collaborative engineering can be! One example is the work systems engineers do with software engineers and security engineers to protect and authenticate data effectively and efficiently manage complex systems. This set of problems explores basic cryptology, which is the foundation for the encryption practices that keep everything from email accounts to voting machines to national security communications secure.
4.1) One type of cryptographic writing is the Caesar Cipher—named after Julius Caesar, who developed it to send secret messages to his military commanders. In the Caesar Cipher below, written with a 3-place rotation to the right (ROT-3R), each letter is simply shifted a certain number of places to the right, meaning A becomes D, B becomes E and so on. Decipher the following secret message using the ROT-3R cipher:
4.2) ROT-3R is just one option. You could shift the letters 5 places or 10 places, for example, or shift letters to the left instead of to the right. Decipher the following secret message, written as a Caesar Cipher. To solve this, you’ll need to figure out whether the cipher is shifting to the left or right and how many places. (Hint: The most common letter in the English language is E.)
4.3) Rather than a simple shift, we can use a different pattern to make the coding more complex. Consider the pattern below in which the first 24 positive integers are shown.
Assuming the pattern continues, decode the following 4 mystery words:
35 33 8 = ___ ___ ___
49 3 37 = ___ ___ ___
26 53 21 = ___ ___ ___
18 45 9 30 = ___ ___ ___

BAE Systems Engineer Spotlight: Megan Carpenter

We’re grateful to BAE Systems, Inc., a patron sponsor of the MATHCOUNTS Foundation, for sponsoring this Future Engineers project! Engineers like Megan make the world a better place and have an impact in their communities. Learn about all of BAE Systems' spotlighted engineers!