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Posted by raherschbach on 12 Oct 2017

Imagine being able to operate your computer without needing a mouse or a keyboard, by controlling it directly with your brain.

Imagine using your thoughts to adjust the temperature settings in your home, change channels on your smart TV, play the new Taylor Swift single, or turn on the lights.

Sound like sci-fi fantasy? Once, it would have been. Now it is becoming reality, as a result of brain machine interfaces (BMI) – an emerging field of technological research that is generating intense interest. Capitol Technology University, home to one of the nation’s most highly regarded cybersecurity programs, will be providing an opportunity for young people to learn about brain machine interfaces and even to try them out for themselves.

The university’s popular Cyber Saturday program – aimed at community college students – will focus on BMIs during sessions in February, March, and April. Click here to register or e-mail cybersat@captechu.edu for more information.

“We’re going to introduce brain machine interfaces to students and have them engage in a variety of activities – controlling computers, playing games, and operating various devices,” explained cybersecurity professor Dr. Jason M. Pittman, who is spearheading the initiative together with Dr. Garima Bajwa of the engineering department. “We’ll also be teaching them about the cybersecurity aspects that come with this new technology.”

The program is part of a federal grant Capitol has received to conduct research into brain machine interfaces – and into the host of potential security issues that they raise.

Linking brains to computers can bring about enormous benefits and conveniences, but also opens up new avenues for criminal or malevolent behavior, he said. Malware could potentially be employed that gives adversaries direct access to their victims’ thoughts.

“Imagine the Equifax breach, but in the context of your thoughts,” he said. “Someone’s not breaching a company to steal data that’s on the hard drive. Rather, someone’s seeking to backchannel an EEG device so they can read your thoughts while you are thinking them.

Dr. Bajwa and Dr. Pittman hope to help mitigate these risks through their research, which is focused on authentication -- that is, on ensuring that BMI-controlled devices can only be controlled by the intended user, and that the user’s thoughts are controlling only the intended devices.

“A new paradigm is emerging for how we interact with machines, and along with it comes a new paradigm for criminal action,” Pittman said. “With this capacity-building grant, Capitol is helping to map out this new and largely uncharted territory.”

Interested in exploring BMIs? Contact the cybersecurity program at cybersat@captechu.edu to learn more about the upcoming Cyber Saturday workshops, or register here.

Blog

Posted by Zahra Qureshi on 11 Oct 2017

astronautical engineering students working in fusion labVisit the Fusion Lab at Capitol Technology University on any given day, and you’ll see students soldering circuits or creating form factors with a 3D printer. You’ll see them working out equations on the chalkboard, coding at computers, or strategizing ways of attracting interest and funding for their projects.

You’ll meet astronautical engineering students, and their peers from the cybersecurity program. Increasingly, you’ll also see electrical engineers, computer engineers, and students from Capitol’s business programs.

The lab, as its name suggests, is a place where knowledge and skills from different fields can be fused in the service of engineering and technology projects. It reflects a key component of Capitol’s vision of 21st-century technology education – namely, the realization that technologists and engineers do not work in a vacuum. They collaborate, learn from each other, and broaden their individual skill sets.

“I’ve never had a job where I work only with people that have my degree,” says Ryan Schrenk, who founded the TRAPSat student project at Capitol and teaches in the university’s astronautical engineering program. “Yet, in many colleges, you can get very closed off. Your EEs work with EEs and your AEs work with AEs, and it’s only later, once they’re on the job, that they start to branch out.”

students in fusion labThe Fusion Lab is part of an endeavor at Capitol to provide students with a different kind of educational experience, one that is less compartmentalized and more reflective of real-world conditions. Through the lab and other facilities, as well as through cross-curricular courses and activities, the university has made collaboration across disciplines part of its institutional culture.

 “With the employment arena becoming much more competitive, there’s an obvious advantage to starting that process much earlier, before you’ve graduated. You want to show employers that you’re well-rounded and very open to working with other people from outside your major,” Schrenk says.

The TRAPSat team – part of a combined mission, known as Cactus-1, that is preparing a satellite payload for launch into space -- includes members from nearly every undergraduate degree program at Capitol. Among the team members are astronautical engineering student Marc Horvath; Alec Johnson, who is completing a dual major in software engineering and mobile computing and game programming; and Marissa Jagernath, who studies business administration.

Horvath and Johnson, who serve as the team’s co-leads for communications, say that combining their expertise not only benefits the project but strengthens their individual capabilities. “Alec has had a lot of prior experience in the military with radio signals, and that’s definitely been an asset with comms,” says Horvath. “We’ve traded a lot of skill sets. For instance, I can handle the circuitry, and since Alec has a foundation in software programing, we can get something done that, working in isolation, we wouldn’t have the skill sets to do.”

For Johnson, working on a satellite project has opened up potential employment opportunities in the space sector – opportunities he might not have considered if not for his participation in Cactus-1.

“Through this project, I’ve learned about link budgets, for instance, and about antenna deployment -- for example, how placing the antenna on one side of a CubeSat will affect how we do communications,” he says. “It’s brought me a breadth of experience, and that opens up some possibilities that I would otherwise have closed myself off to because I’m not an astronautical engineering major. As a software engineer working with Cactus-1, I can apply for space ops positions – and I plan to do so.”

Jagernath handles outreach and press relations for TRAPSat and acts as the team’s liaison with the University of Maryland’s balloon payload program. She says “not a lot of business students” get the chance to work closely with an engineering team as part of their university studies.

“I’m always learning something, and there’s always something to learn,” she says.

Blog

Posted by Zahra Qureshi on 4 Oct 2017

Planning a career in computer science? It’s not only about learning how to be a coding wizard.

Sure, a professional in the field can be expected to have a solid command of the major programming languages, including PhP, SQL, Python, Perl, and C++. That’s a baseline for any computer science major, says the chair of Capitol Technology University’s Computer Science program, Dr. Eric Sabbah.

A deeper understanding of the field, though, requires critical thinking skills that can be applied across varied scenarios, he said.

“The ability to analyze a problem and understand what goes into solving it – is huge. If we can accomplish that, we’ve done our job,” he said.

Students in Capitol’s computer science bachelor’s program first master the syntax and technology fundamentals, with a strong emphasis on object-oriented programming, but in their junior and senior years the scope moves towards higher-level knowledge, he said.

“At first it’s just about making things work, but we don’t stop there. As they move through the program, students ask questions like “is it efficient? Is it designed in an elegant way? Does it deliver a good user experience?”

Soft skills, such as being able to communicate and work together as part of the team, are also essential.

“Any time you’re going to work in industry, you’re not going to be working alone,” he said. “It’s true that many computer scientists and STEM people do like to work alone. But real life isn’t that way. You’re going to be part of a team, collaborating together to get things done.”

Capitol helps its students build those vital teamwork and communication skills through collaborative student projects, he said, as well as a capstone course that concludes the graduate program and is designed to replicate a real-life project, complete with documentation and budgeting.

“Having those skills is what distinguishes you between having a career and having a great career,” Sabbah said.

 

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 29 Sep 2017

It’s a major milestone in a professional career, demonstrating advanced expertise and credentials: a doctoral degree.

Capitol offers doctoral degree programs in two of today’s most critical fields: cybersecurity (DSc) and management and decision sciences (PhD). Both are low-residency programs, with all coursework available online.

Want to know more? The university will be holding a virtual information session on Wednesday (October 4) at 7 pm, accessible to anyone with a computer and internet connection.

 “The doctoral information session is designed to share with students the two types of doctoral degrees that we offer – the DSc in cybersecurity and the PhD in management and decision sciences,” says Dr. Michael R. Fain, director of doctoral programs at Capitol. “We’ll go over the classes that are offered and discuss the three-day on-campus residency, which doctoral students attend three times during the course of completing their degrees.”

“We’ll also discuss some of the dissertation research that has been done by doctoral students at Capitol, and about the research endeavors of our faculty. We also open the floor to any questions that prospective students may have.”

Take your career to the next level today! To register for the information session, simply click here and fill out the online registration form, or contact Graduate Admissions at gradmit@captechu.edu.

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 29 Sep 2017

Capitol Technology University’s programs in computer and engineering fields are a big draw for employers in the region, according to representatives of companies and organizations attending the university’s Career Conference on Tuesday (September 26).

Also mentioned was the hands-on experience gained by Capitol students are part of their education, as well as the university’s commitment to working with area employers in order to tailor programs to emerging needs.

“We’re looking for students with technology backgrounds – engineering, computer science,” said Kalia Kinser, HR and talent manager at Alertus. “The faculty here does a great job connecting with employers to see what they can do to make sure the students are hire-ready, and that they graduate with the tools that employers in the area are looking for.

Kinser and representatives of more than 20 business and organizations were on campus Tuesday for the twice-yearly conference, which includes not only a job fair but a series of presentations and workshops designed to help prepare students for entry into their careers. Capping the event was a keynote address by Hank Tseu, a senior ground software architect at OneWeb, who briefed Capitol students on the company’s mission of providing global broadband access via a constellation of hundreds of satellites.

Faculty also make use of the Career Conference to consult with participating employers about particular skills and areas of knowledge they would like to see emphasized in academic programs. “The Career Conference is a great opportunity to build that relationship,” Kinser notes.

Stacy Abrams is senior employment specialist at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which has a central role in NASA’s history-making James Webb Space Telescope mission. “We’re looking for people with backgrounds in software development, systems engineering, flight operations,” she said. “We have hired a lot of Capitol Technology University students into our flight operations teams, but we also have a significant need for computer scientists.”

Capitol is of particular interest because of the programs offered at the university. “It’s a really good fit,” she said.

STScI has established two Capitol Technology University internships, lasting two to three semesters. In addition, summer internships are available, Abrams said.

Markus Mabson was at the fair to represent Sealing Technologies, a Columbia-based government contractor. “We’re looking to hire students who can bring network solutions, including network perimeter defense and network management.”

The practical, hands-on emphasis of Capitol’s programs is a big draw from Sealing, Mabson said.

“We love the fact that Capitol students come with practical experience,” he said. “As a result of that experience, you come here ready to work, out of the box.”


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