Posted by raherschbach on 19 Apr 2016

An enthusiastic group of young people got first-hand experience with the Internet of Things (IoT) on Saturday (April 16) as they used a Raspberry Pi to remotely control devices such as radios and lamps.

Meanwhile, others sought to knock each other off Linux systems in a challenging game of virtual “King of the Hill.”

The activities were part of a Cyber Saturday event at Capitol Technology University.  Since 2012, the Cyber Saturday program has drawn hundreds of high school and community colleges to campus and introduced them to basic cybersecurity skills and principles in a fun atmosphere.

“Cyber Saturday is an ongoing series of events where we invite students to come and see focused demos of different technologies that they would find neat and fun,” said Rick Hansen, a Capitol professor and coach of the university’s cyber competition team. “In this case, the Internet of Things is an up and coming topic everywhere, so we decided to create some demos for that. We purchased a small Raspberry Pi, which is a computer that for around $40 does more than your desktop did 15 years ago."

"We used it during the event to teach Linux, and we had participants using it to turn devices on and off, to control lights and radios over the internet.”

Tyrell Williams, a junior in cybersecurity and member of the cyber competition team, helped organize and run the King of the Hill game.

“This involved everyone logging on via SSH and then trying to knock each other off,” he explained. “The cool thing is that, although it’s a game, you learn a lot from it. You’re asking yourself ‘how do I stay on the machine?’ And in order to stay on you have to learn the machine – learn the basic commands, how to navigate the file system, how to see who is logged in, what a process ID is, how to tell which IP address is yours and which belongs to someone else,” Williams explained.

Players also learned what can happen when the wrong commands are entered or other mistakes made, he noted. Some moved against other players on the virtual “Hill” – only to discover that they had kicked themselves off instead.

While some participants were just getting introduced to the world of cyber, others have long-term plans to undertake a degree in the field. For them, the event provided a window into one of the top regional institutions offering cybersecurity programs.  

Andrew Valliere (top right), a student at Howard Community College, was among those attending the Saturday event. He said it gave him a chance to see what kinds of resources are available at Capitol, in the event he decides to transfer.

“After I’m finished at HCC, I plan to attend a cybersecurity school, or one where I can major in cybersecurity, computer science or a related field,” he said. “I’m evaluating the different programs out there and seeing which ones I Iike best.”  

Cyber Saturday provided a chance to “learn more about Capitol’s program, and what it offers that’s different from all the other programs out there,” Valliere said.


Posted by raherschbach on 14 Apr 2016

Capitol’s Cyber Battle Team put in a strong performance at this year’s Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (MACCDC), passing the first round qualifier and finishing eighth in the regional competition. 

In the process, the team laid the groundwork for greater success in the future, recruiting a new generation of team members and deploying resources that could provide an additional edge.

The team’s leader, freshman Jonathan Leao, and fellow members Xavier Allen, Zac Cabral, David Mensah, Tyrell Williams, Nathaniel Robinson, Joshua Joseph and Zachary  Blankenship navigated a highly unpredictable array of challenges.

“They threw a lot of curveballs at us,” Leao said. “For instance, this year’s competition had an orange team representing end users – members of this team would call us and we’d have to help them with any technical issues they were having.”

“That is something we haven’t encountered before in previous MACCDCs. That was a big hurdle, as we weren’t prepared, going in, to help end-users. We were prepared with our back and defending our machines,” he said.

He credits the team’s “very strong Linux side” with pulling the team through to a respectable finish.

“We had two machines outside of the firewall and surprisingly these two machines were the ones that got hit the least. Despite not being inside the firewall, they turned out to be the most secure of the machines – and our Linux guys really stepped up to the plate to keep them online. We had a very strong Linux side, a lot of very sharp people,” Leao said.

Lessons learned for next year include earlier team formation, which would allow members more time to work together and become more familiar with their systems.

“With more preparation, I think we could have gone a lot farther than we did,” he said.

Money raised during a giving campaign in the fall will help in getting the team together earlier and arranging more practice sessions. Thanks to the generosity of alumni who provided donations during the campaign, the team was able to purchase a server which they can use to set up virtual environments – allowing them to practice even when not on the Capitol campus.

“We have set this up but were not able to practice with it before this year’s competition,” Leao explained. “Next year, we expect it to make a big difference. “We’ll have a bunch of virtual machines running systems that we think will be used in competition, and then – say I’m at my house an hour away, I can still log in and practice with the rest of the team.” Leao said.


Posted by raherschbach on 13 Apr 2016

Capitol students with an interest in building mobile apps have a chance this month to showcase their skills and ingenuity before industry professionals and potentially win a cash prize. The university is holding its first App Competition, with entries due Friday (April 15).

Three prizes will be offered: $300 for first place, and $100 each for second and third place.

Entries will be evaluated by a group of judges from leading organizations in both the private and federal sectors. Criteria for judging will include not only the level of technical and programming wizardry, but also user-friendliness and attractiveness of design, organizers say.

Sarah Alspaw, assistant director of career services and graduate student support, is helping to put together the judges' panel. She says the contest has benefits both for Capitol students and the organizations that are providing the judges.

“It’s a two-way process,” Alspaw said. “Our students are having the chance to engage with professionals, thus contributing to their career networking efforts. For the businesses and organizations involved, it’s a good way to build brand awareness on campus.”

Professor Herve Franceschi, who teaches computer science and mobile computing courses at Capitol, is the lead organizer of the contest. While the career-building and educational aspects are important, he says, the contest is above all designed to be fun.

“We hope this event will generate excitement among the student community,” Franceschi said. “An added feature is that with judges from the outside world, students will be able to showcase their work, and judges will have the chance to see the skills and creativity of our students.”

The contest is open to all Capitol students. Apps must be designed for iOS or Android only. Individual (1 student) and group submissions are both welcome; there is no limit to the number of apps that can be submitted. For instance, a student may submit an individual app and also participate in a group submission.

Apps submitted for the contest must not have been made available in the App Store or Google Play as of February 10, 2016. For more information, e-mail Professor Franceschi at


Posted by raherschbach on 8 Apr 2016

Wireless communications professionals with an interest in gaining cybersecurity expertise had the opportunity at last month’s IWCE Expo to learn about the programs and resources available at Capitol Technology University, a leader in the cyber education field.

 Xavier A. Richards, associate director of graduate recruitment, was on hand to answer questions about the field and talk with working professionals about how the university’s flexible, online programs can help them acquire new expertise while maintaining their career and family commitments.

She spoke with Capitology about the IWCE experience.

Among the IWCE attendees you met, what seemed to be the main reasons for being interested in the cybersecurity field?

Generally there were two reasons. Some were seeking to make a career change – they’ve been in the wireless communications industry, and now they’d like to switch to cyber. More often, though, the individuals I met with are committed to the wireless field, but they are looking for ways in which they can incorporate cybersecurity strategies within their companies and organizations.

Many of the visitors to Capitol’s booth said they came because they’d attended the seminars given at the event by Capitol faculty. William Butler, our cybersecurity program chair, and other members of the Capitol faculty and administration gave talks covering the fundamentals of cybersecurity, and also looking at specific areas of concern, such as power grids and the Internet of Things. The keynote speaker at the event, US cyber defense advisor to NATO Curtis Levinson, is a Capitol trustee.  These seminars and speeches generated a great deal of interest and prompted attendees to check out our booth.

What does Capitol offer professionals in this field?

Our degree programs in the cyber field include a master’s and a doctorate, along with certification programs for those who want to build up their knowledge and credentials, but are not yet ready to undertake a degree. The IA certification program consists of four classes – twelve credits in total – and it includes the foundational courses they need in order to start making the transition.

But I’d also recommend considering our master’s program. It includes a bridge course that caters to career changers. It’s the very first course in the program and it’s for people who do not have the background.

What makes Capitol the go-to institution for those who are seeking to supplement their expertise and credentials, or who are considering a career change?

That’s easy. We have top-notch faculty who work in the industry. That’s one of the main reasons why I think a lot of individuals come to us. Our professors are practitioners who are out there in the field, who keep up with industry trends and who know what is going on right now. They bring that knowledge to the virtual classroom. Students like the fact that they’ll be learning from individuals with high levels of skill and expertise, who can keep them abreast of what’s going on.

A second reason is the strength of our curriculum. We get advice from several government agencies as well as partners in private industry. Their recommendations help shape our curriculum. As a result, the quality of our academics and the quality of our faculty are both very strong.

For many, though, the key reason is the flexibility we provide through our online programs. At IWCE, almost everyone you meet is a working professional. They’re not looking for a full-time program that would require them to leave their jobs and go live somewhere else. They’re looking for an academic program that is rigorous but also provides the flexibility that  they need, allowing them to work, raise their families, and pursue their academic goals at the same time.


Posted by raherschbach on 6 Apr 2016

Ben Serano, a junior in the astronautical engineering program at Capitol, hopes to be an astronaut someday. It’s a challenging goal, and the odds of being selected are slim – but he’s determined to do what it takes to prepare himself should the opportunity arise.

Recently, he was able to meet with someone who could share solid advice and first-hand experience: veteran astronaut Frank Culbertson, who logged over 146 days in space aboard three separate flights. In 1990, he was part of a five-day mission aboard the space shuttle Atlantis; three years later, he flew aboard Discovery, during a mission which included repairs to the Hubble Telescope.

During 2001, he commanded the International Space Station (ISS) for 117 days; when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred, Culbertson was the only American citizen in space. Currently, Culbertson is president of the Orbital ATK Space Systems Group; in that capacity, he is responsible for some of the company’s key programs, including resupply of the ISS.

Serano says his meeting with Culbertson was an “amazing opportunity, one that I never expected.”

“He said that someone wanting to be an astronaut shouldn’t make it their sole life calling, because statistically there’s a low probability of getting in,” Serano said. “But if it’s really what you want to do, keep it as your long-term goal, while having a backup plan.”

A good starting point is to select a field that provides support for space flight, and put effort into mastering that field, Culbertson told him. There are a number of relevant fields to choose from, Serano said, and many are taught here at Capitol.

Daredevil feats are not a prerequisite for becoming an astronaut, Culbertson advised – but preparation for conditions in space is important.

“He said don’t expect that you need to go out and skydive or climb Mount Everest. But start putting yourself in situations that are beyond your comfort zone – scuba diving, for instance, so you can get used to how oxygen systems . Or flying, so you can learn how to react in a three-dimensional environment.”

Serano says that even if he does not succeed in becoming an astronaut, he is committed to pursuing a career that relates to the exploration of space. The systems engineering skills he is learning at Capitol will help him do that, he says.

“I want to contribute in some way to manned space flight. That’s what I want to do. And if it takes me to being an astronaut, I will be a happy camper,” he says.