Posted by raherschbach on 13 Sep 2017

Not many college graduates can say they have had the experience of building a payload and seeing NASA launch it into space.

For the Capitol Technology University students who attended RockSat-X this summer, it was an experience they won’t forget.

“The launch was at 5:30 am,” recalls Christopher Murray, the team’s flight software specialist. “We had a smooth recovery, with our payload still intact – although a little seawater got in. Our antenna was preserved. Most of our stuff was retrievable; we just had to wipe off the water.”

Murray and his fellow team members were there to test Project Hermes, an ongoing, student-led effort to investigate new approaches to satellite control and telemetry. Initiated by Capitol professor Rishabh Maharaja in 2014, the project has experimented with methods of linking up with a satellite payload using a mobile phone.

Attending RockSat-X in August along with Murray were fellow team members Marissa Jagarnath, Sam Lawson, Sophia LoSchiavo, Erik Schroen, Pierce Smith, and Dean Zanetti, together with mentor Ryan Schrenk.

At RockSat-X, the team’s goal was to communicate with its payload via the Iridium constellation, a globe-spanning network of 66 satellites in polar orbit.

“We were able to achieve instantaneous communication between the rocket and our smartphones, allowing us to track it at apogee and plot its path,” Murray explains. “We’re the first to do that using Iridium. It’s quite groundbreaking.”

Sophia LoSchiavo, Hermes project manager, said the team is pleased with the results, despite some anomalies.

“We received messages to our cell phones containing GPS data as well as maintenance data,” she said. “We received latitude and longitude – the longitude was accurate, though the latitude data was iffy. Even though we didn’t receive as much data as we would have liked, there was definitely enough to call it successful.”

Team member Sam Lawson played a key role in designing and building the payload structure. He says he values the practical experience gained through RockSat-X – and through Project Hermes and similar endeavors at Capitol.

“You get to design a payload from the ground up while working within NASA guidelines,” he said. “Working as part of a team to co-ordinate and build your own thing and at the end of the process see it get sent into space – it’s really exciting.”

Students also see gaining hands-on experience as essential to forging a successful career, Murray said.

“Everything that we’re doing here benefits the students and is helping us look better when we go out into the job market. Not many people in a job interview can honestly say that they have participated in designing a payload that went up into space,” he said.

“It’s a great thing to have on your resume,” LoSchiavo agreed.

Photos: a) From left: Sophia LoSchiavo, Ryan Schrenk, Pierce Smith, Christopher Murray, Marissa Jagarnath, Sam Lawson; b) the Hermnes payload. Photos by Marissa Jagarnath


Posted by raherschbach on 24 Aug 2017

With a rare astronomical event coinciding with the first day of classes, the fall semester at Capitol got off to a memorable start Monday (August 21).

During the afternoon, students, faculty, and administration gathered outside for the solar eclipse that captivated viewers across the United States. While Maryland was outside the path of totality, viewers in the state were able to see the moon obscuring approximately 80% of the sun’s surface. University personnel were on hand to provide NASA-approved solar eclipse glasses for safe viewing.

Sharhonda Whitfield was among the students who turned out to watch the event. “It was my first time seeing an eclipse,” she said. “I grew up watching space shows on PBS, so I’d seen eclipses shown on TV, but I’d never witnessed one live. I really liked the way it brought everyone outside.”

The eclipse capped a busy day at the university, with a new school year officially under way. Incoming freshmen arrived on campus last week for orientation, and returning students were due back on campus on Saturday.

The enthusiasm among students – both new and returning – was everywhere to be felt, said Brandi McKee, director of residential life and student services.

“The students had a lot of fun at orientation, and the energy is still going,” she said. “We had over 50 students show up for the eclipse viewing.”

“Everyone seems very excited and happy,” she said.

Capitol's incoming freshman class is 65-strong, with applicants each year drawn to the university's diverse variety of business, engineering, and technology programs, as well as the close-knit, supportive atmosphere of a small campus.

Many graduates go on to work for agencies such as NASA and  the NSA, as well as major companies such as General Dynamics, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, and Verizon. The university boasts a strong employability track record, with 80% of graduates landing jobs within three months of graduation, at salaries nearly double the national average, according to 2016 data.

Asked about their goals for the semester, students highlighted academics and career preparation, while some also said campus clubs and activities are important.

Cybersecurity major Raekwon Banks aims to maintain a high GPA and land an internship that can ultimately lead to a full-time job in the field. “I hope to work either at a company like Northrop Grumman, or for the federal government,” he said.

Elijah Therrien, who studies computer engineering, is beginning his first year as a resident assistant. For him, the first week of school is a time to relax after prepping the dorms – and after a demanding internship over the summer.

“I’m looking forward to seeing my friends and hanging out with them,” he said. He also hopes to maintain his current 4.0 GPA average while transitioning to mostly online classes as a junior this year.

For new students, he has this advice: although academics are crucial, it’s also important to get out and get involved.

 “Interact with the community. Don’t just stay in the dorms. If there’s an opportunity to volunteer or help out with something, then try to do so,” he says. “That way, when you’re looking for a job down the road or need a letter of reference, you’ll have more opportunities, you’ll have more people who know you and know your work ethic.”

Photo: Student Annie Yang watches the solar eclipse at Capitol on Monday (August 21).


Posted by raherschbach on 14 Aug 2017

What sets Capitol Technology University from other higher education choices in the region? Ask Ryan Brown and he’ll mention two attributes in particular: the focus on engineering and technology fields, and the close-knit, friendly environment.

Brown, a rising senior with a double major in computer science and electronics engineering technology, says he “fell in love with Capitol” during a high school trip to the university.

“The academic dean made a point of coming to visit my school,” he recalls. “Everybody at Capitol was so friendly – people went out of their way to answer questions and show me where to go. At the same time, it was really exciting to see the technological side – the students doing code, the projects in progress in the labs. I said to myself, ‘I really like this place!’”

As a student, he soon came to appreciate being able to forge connections with his professors – easy to do at a small school like Capitol, but far more difficult at big institutions that crowd students into auditorium-sized lectures.

“Capitol has small class sizes, so the professors really have the ability to work one on one with students. For example, I’ve taken classes with Professor Andrew Mehri, and he knows my strengths and weaknesses in code.  That’s true of the faculty in general – there’s the ability to understand a student’s strengths and help them in areas where they need to build up their skills,” Brown says.

That doesn’t mean the classes are easy or lightweight, though. On the contrary, he says, they can be “very hard. But you have the support of your professors. And you’ll end up learning so much.”

Brown remembers his C and Java programming classes as being among the most challenging – “and also the ones I ended up liking the most at the end of the day.”

“Learning new languages, learning new code – it still excites me to this day. Code is like a spoken language; there are always variations to it. I’ve been a CS major going on four years now, and I still get a thrill when I start writing code. I will always be grateful to Capitol for throwing me in the deep end on that one!”

Completing a double major is an ambitious endeavor for any student, but that hasn’t stopped Brown from also being active in student life. He is the president of the Student Leadership Advisory Board (S-LAB), an umbrella organization that oversees the various student clubs on campus.

“I’ve applied to graduate programs at four universities, Capitol being one of them, and I’m waiting for acceptance or denial as we speak. I want to do a dual master’s in computer science and business administration. Career-wise, I want to do research either in computer science or electronics engineering technology. I want to be able to travel, do research, do field studies."

“I like being in the mix of things,” Brown says. “That’s where I want my career to go.”


Posted by raherschbach on 17 Jul 2017

Capitol Technology University has two job fairs planned for the 2017-18 school year, to be held on September 26 and again on February 16. Employers who register early for both fairs will receive a significant discount.

The events offer businesses and organizations a key opportunity to meet with potential hires in business, engineering, and technology fields. Students attending the fair represent majors such as astronautical engineering, business administration, computer science, cyber and information security, electrical engineering, mobile computing and game programming, software engineering, and web development, among other programs.

Capitol’s job fairs are particularly valuable because of the university’s strong track record in educating students for current workforce needs, said Sarah Alspaw, Associate Director of Career Services.

“We’re ABET-accredited in engineering and designated by the NSA and the DHS as a Center for Excellence in cybersecurity education,” Alspaw said. “We have highly qualified talent here. Moreover, our educational philosophy is to prepare students for the tasks and challenges they will encounter on the job. Our students gain hands-on experience in labs; by the second week of classes they’re actively engaged in applying what they learn to real-time situations.”

“Many Capitol students are already employed by the time they reach their senior year, so we really encourage employers to meet our students early – as early as freshman year. We also encourage them to build a brand on campus, build interest among students in working for your company, and let students know what you’re looking for,” Alspaw said. “For example, if students know you’re looking for a specific programming language, they’ll tailor their electives so they can gain experience with that language and be competitive for the positions you’re hiring for.

Registration fee for hiring organizations is $140 per event and includes a 6-foot skirted table, two chairs, refreshments, and lunch for up to four representatives. However, organizations that register for both fairs by August 1, 2017 receive a discounted price of $210 covering both events.

Don’t miss out on you chance to engage up-and-coming talent in today’s high-demand fields! To register, simply follow this URL and click the link that says Participant Registration. For more information, e-mail


Posted by raherschbach on 7 Jul 2017

Four Capitol Technology University students have been selected for the National Security Scholarship Program, a prestigious opportunity to build experience in the field while seeing the cost of college significantly reduced.

Students chosen for the program receive scholarship funds, paid internships and the possibility of future employment with participating companies and organizations. The program has been described as a “career-launcher” that positions awardees for full-time employment in the security field upon graduation.

Vincent Galletto, Joshua Gidding, Sophia LoSchiavo, and Malcolm Rhett each received between $6,500 and $10,000 in scholarship funds and paid summer internships at Mantech (Gidding, Rhett) and Raytheon (Galletto, LoSchiavo).

 “Capitol is honored to have four selectees this year,” said the chair of the university’s cybersecurity program, Dr. William Butler. “Applicants go through a stringent selection process, and to be chosen for the award is a major achievement indeed. NSSP recipients are the best of the best.”

“The NSSP is a unique program in that students get to intern at top contractors for the federal government, working side by side with cybersecurity professionals, learning the trade, and gaining experience with the profession,” Butler explained. “This launches their careers. Students who have been awarded these scholarships in the past have gone to work for companies like Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed, and Leidos, as well as the National Security Agency.”

Capitol’s president, Dr. Bradford Sims, said the NSSP selections "demonstrate the caliber of Capitol students and show that the university is helping to meet the demand for professionals in technology fields."

 “This scholarship award to the Capitol Technology University’s students represents strong confirmation from industry that Capitol is providing needed career-focused education,” Sims said.

Sophia LoSchiavo, one of the four NSSP awardees from Capitol, said the program provides an opportunity to contribute to the security of the United States, as well as assisting in personal career goals.

“I am thrilled and honored to have been selected for the NSSP,” she said.  I have no doubt this internship will open a multitude of opportunities in my future. It pleases me to be able to contribute to the well-being of my country and I look forward to taking that step this month.”

LoSchiavo, a junior in the astronautical engineering program, is a transfer student who came to Capitol after first attending a university in Pennsylvania.

“I feel that transferring to Capitol and applying to the NSSP are the best decisions I could have made to launch my career,” LoSchiavo said.

Now entering its 19th year, the NSSP is sponsored by the Independent College Fund of Maryland (I-Fund), a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the mission of Maryland’s independent colleges and universities by securing financial aid and internship experiences for students. The NSSP is open to students attending one of the twelve I-Fund member institutions, including Capitol.

To date, the NSSP has awarded $3.4 million in scholarships to more than 300 students attending an I-Fund member college or university. Through the NSSP, the I-Fund aids in the critical and increasing need for qualified, security-cleared agents to support the intelligence and defense industry in Maryland and the nation.

Interested in applying for the NSSP? A meeting for students interested in applying for next year’s program will be held on September 6 on the Capitol campus.from 1-2pm. For more details, contact the office of Career Services at