Posted by raherschbach on 8 Jul 2015

One of the surprising things about watching a rocket launch from a distance is that you see it before you hear it, says Capitol student Christel Gesterling. On the morning of June 25, she and fellow student Amanda Raab were on hand to see a NASA suborbital sounding rocket lift off from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

"We were about 1200 feet away," Gesterling said. "You watch the rocket go up, and then about five seconds later the sound hits you. It almost knocks you over. An incredible experience."

The Terrier-Improved Orion rocket carried experimental payloads built by teams of university, community college and high school students attending this summer's RockOn! and RockSat-C programs. Gesterling and Raab, accompanied by Capitol faculty member Pamela Opeka, were among the 72 participants in the RockOn! workshop, which provides hands-on training in building a scientific payload for suborbital flight.

"It was hard work, but also a lot of fun," Gesterling said of the workshop. "The first three days were basically sounding rocket bootcamp -- 10 to 12 hour days building, soldering, testing all day long. Every individual sensor was tested by itself, and when everything was put together we tested it again." Only after a long succession of tests, she said, was the payload ready to be placed in a cannister and integrated into the rocket.

Gesterling felt impressed by how systematic and thorough the process was.

"The way the task was broken down into different parts was so smart and so organized. It really taught me a lot about the architecture of how to put together a mission, not just the physical building itself, but the big picture. It was really intense, but very worthwhile," she said.

Participants were given a tour of the Wallops facility, and they also had the opportunity to learn about the next stages in the program. While RockOn! participants are essentially given a payload to build, with the instruments and coding already determined, RockSat-C gives teams the opportunity to design and build their own payloads.

A third stage in the program, RockSat X, will have its launch during August. HERMES, a student project at Capitol that aims to develop a mobile-based satellite command system, will have a payload aboard that flight.

Gesterling hopes to be back at Wallops next summer for RockSat-C, perhaps in conjunction with another student project, TRAPSat. The project, which aims to help capture space debris with the help of aerogel, has performed several high-altitude balloon tests and is ready for the next level.

"RockSat is beneficial for what we want to do, which is to move from balloon launches to space," she said.


Posted by raherschbach on 2 Jul 2015

I was provided with the opportunity to visit and tour some fantastic organizations that would be of interest to our students. I visited General Dynamics Information Technology in late June (GDIT), and I will be able to visit Northrop Grumman, the FBI, and the American Red Cross in the middle of July. 

I see these as fact finding missions, so here is my report about what I learned:

General Dynamics Information Technology

I visited the Towson branch, which sits in the middle of downtown Towson.  A newly renovated facility, you could see the influence of the open concept work area, allowing for the culture of collaboration within the workforce.  According to our tour guide, the culture of each location may vary depending upon the types of contracts that each branch supports. Some offices may be more formal, while others more relaxed.

GDIT is best known for its work with the defense industry, but is has a strong foothold within the medical community as well. The organization creates software, infrastructure, and technology to support privatized and federal health care initiatives. For more information about the organization, please see:

The company is seeking candidates within project management, business management, help desk technicians, code development, software design, and quality assurance testers, network technicians, big data analytics, and cyber security, along with other opportunities.

GDIT hosts summer internships as well as internships during the academic year, and roughly 22 internship positions in Maryland. The commute is just under an hour down the parkway, so it may be a viable option for students with transportation, even during the academic year.

Tips for success in applying:

I, and the other Career Center professionals who attended this event, were given the chance to discuss and ask questions with recruiters, department directors, and employees who were either currently or recent interns. These individuals provided the following advice:

  • The minimum requirements for all internships are: a high school diploma, full-time enrollment, and 3.0 GPA
  • Interpersonal communication is important.  You will likely be more successful if you connect directly with a recruiter in addition to applying online
  • Make sure to create specific and targeted resumes and cover letters that highlight your skills to the position for which you are applying.
  • Not all positions require security clearance
  • Internship recruitment for each summer is in February, and although they are seeking primarily sophomores-seniors, first year students are encouraged to apply. Sometimes it can take a while to find a position that is a good fit, so apply early.
  • Full-time positons available for all levels of degree completers, from associates to advanced degrees

Information for Students and New Grads:

Here are a few opportunities that would be of interest to our internship and entry-level seeking students, requiring less than 0-2 years of experience:

  • Intern, College - Technical in Towson, Maryland: Job ID Number: 234835
  • Associate Developer, Web in Bethesda, Maryland: Job ID Number: 234791
  • Associate Programmer in Bethesda, Maryland: Job ID Number: 234790
  • Associate Technician, Telecom in Bethesda, Maryland: Job ID Number: 234610.1
  • Associate Engineer in Bethesda, Maryland: Job ID Number: 234379
  • Assoc Administrator, Network in Bethesda, Maryland: Job ID Number: 234300
  • Assoc Administrator, Business in Bethesda, Maryland: Job ID Number: 234298
  • Associate Analyst, Operations in Bethesda, Maryland: Job ID Number: 234297Associate Engineer, Software in Bethesda, Maryland:  Job ID Number: 233250
  • Associate Analyst, Logistics in California, Maryland: Job ID Number: 232989
  • (Cyber) Tier I VAT Analyst in Washington, District of Columbia Job ID Number: 230141

Thank you to the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers for allowing providing the opportunities. 

Keep an eye out for my next blog, where I will tell you about my visits to the FBI, Northrop Grumman, and the American Red Cross.


Posted by raherschbach on 26 Jun 2015

Over 2,000 cybersecurity and information assurance professionals are expected to attend next week's NSA Information Assurance Directorate's Information Assurance Symposium (IAS) in Washington. DC. The event includes presentations, panel discussions and training sessions aimed at keeping participants up to speed on emerging developments in this critical field.

Attendees will also have an opportunity at the event to learn about the innovative and industry-relevant cybersecurity programs at Capitol. Cybersecurity program chair William Butler will be joining Capitol's director of graduate recruitment, Xavier A. Richards, at the symposium, together with select faculty.

"This is a very exciting event for us to be attending," Richards said. "It's hosted by the NSA and will have cybersecurity leaders, decision-makers and practictioners in attendance. The NSA has also invited international cybersecurity experts to this event, so participants will be engaging a global perspective."

During the symposium, Richards and her colleagues will be getting the word out about the university's undergraduate and graduate programs in cybersecurity and the career-boosting opportunities that come with a Capitol degree. Capitol offers bachelor's and master's degrees in Cyber and Information Security as well as a doctorate in cybersecurity. Numerous post-baccaulaureate certificate programs are also available, including in Digital Forensics and Incident Handling, Information Assurance Administration, Network Protection, Secure Cloud Computing, Secure Mobile Technology, Secure Software Development and Security Management.

“One of the really outstanding things about our programs is the quality of our curriculum," Richards said. "It's practical and industry-oriented, with students gaining exposure both to theory and labs. We enable professionals to advance their skill sets and become thought leaders in their fields, addressing some of the most pressing concerns in the cybersecurity arena."

The master's and doctoral level programs are also designed to accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals. All of Capitol's graduate degrees are offered online, utilizing a real-time, synchronous learning platform that replicates classroom conditions -- without requiring a commute.

"Our programs are very flexible," Richards said. "Professionals at all career stages can take our classes from anywhere in the world, as long as they have a computer connected to the internet. It's a very unique way to balance school and work and be able to do both at the same time."

The IAS event will be held June 29 through July 1 at the Washington Convention Center. More information here.


Posted by raherschbach on 23 Jun 2015

The 5-meter parabolic antenna in front of Capitol Technology University's main building is a recognizable landmark on campus, but after years of use it was starting to show some wear and tear.

A team of students, however, has made it their mission to bring about the necessary cleaning and upgrades. It is currently in action as a tool for radio astronomy, and has even been put into use in the search for extraterrestial life.

Carlos Del Cid, Erlin Cruz, Ennis Roulhac and Matthew Barrett undertook the overhaul beginning in November 2014, with the encouragement of Capitol professors Dr. Alex "Sandy" Antunes, Dr. Charles Conner and Dr. Hong Yu. 

The students subsequently decided to turn the endeavor into their senior project.

"The objectives of the project are to revitalize the antenna and then complete four individual projects," the team explained in an e-mail. "We plan to refurbish as much as possible from the existing structure to minimize the cost. We also want to create a modular foundation for future upgrades as needed. In addition, future student may be interested in further upgrades with additional modules and sensors for new experimental projects."

"To date, the team has accomplished the following; disassembled, cleaned and refurbished the antenna motor drive mechanism, which led to the antenna dish regaining motion; disassembled and replaced electrical components in the power distribution unit; and installed a server unit for data acquisition and storage," the team said. "The project is also integrating software defined radio such as GNU-Radio, which takes the received signal and analyzes them for various uses."

The students' individual projects are also under way. Barrett is collecting data for the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence signals; Cruz is creating a graphical user interface to control the structure; Del Cid is using the antenna as a telescope for radio astronomy, and Roulhac is adding reception for radio communication frequencies.

The group project also involves using an Arduino platform as the foundation for controlling the antenna. Additionally, sensors will be used to register the position of the antenna dish as well as the orientation. 

"This is so that when an individual needs to place the antenna into a particular position the feedback will be displayed from the sensors to acknowledge its location. This will also create the custom settings for each of the projects. We are planning to finish all this projects by the end of the summer," the team said.

Pictured. Dr. Alex "Sandy" Antunes (second right) with students.


Posted by raherschbach on 17 Jun 2015

The Capitol Cyber Challenge summer camp session for June 22 and 26 has been cancelled, but a session scheduled for later in the summer is still on.

That session will take place from July 20 to 24. Registrations are being accepted now.

The week-long program is designed for high schoolers in grades 9-12 with an interest in computer networks and how to defend them. It will include scavenger hunts and other cyber games; training in computer forensics; coding and scripting with Python and other languages; creating software robots; working with 3D printers; and other fun and informative activities. The program will run from 9am-4pm Monday to Friday.

"It's perfect both for students who are interested in cybersecurity but don't know much about it, and also for those who have had some cybersecurity experience during high school and want to increase their knowledge base," said Meghan Young, director of Admissions Operations. "They'll have the opportunity to come to this camp for a week, nine to four, and get hands-on experience under the guidance of experts in the field."

"It's a really great experience for high school students to come in and have a college experience over the summer. I think a lot of students and parents are going to be pretty excited about it," Young said.

Capitol Cyber Challenge will be hosted at the McGowan Center on the university campus. The cost for a one-week session is $500. Click here for a printable registration form, or contact Joy Exner at or (240) 965-2485 for more information.