Posted by raherschbach on 26 Feb 2018

A native of New Jersey, Dr. Mary-Margaret Chantré majored in English during college before embarking on a 22-year career in the military, retiring in 2017 with the rank of Major. During her time of service, she specialized in IT before transitioning to cybersecurity as the need to protect networks and combat adversaries in the cyber domain became more acute. An adjunct professor at Capitol since 2015, she recently joined the full-time cybersecurity faculty and now teaches courses at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels. She lives in Laurel, MD with her two small children.

You earned your bachelor’s in a field far removed from computer science. What was your path into the cybersecurity arena?

I was introduced to the field during my service in the military. Prior to that, my career was in IT, so cybersecurity was a new thing for me. I started off building cyber teams, completed my certifications, and continued to develop my knowledge and skills. In many ways, becoming involved in cybersecurity has been a surprise for me. I never expected my military career would take me in this direction. Right now, with the way things are going in the world, it’s a great place to be.

How hard is the CISSP, in your experience?

The biggest challenge is that every answer is correct – what you’re required to do is find the best answer, not simply a right answer. After I had gone through a couple courses and began to understand how to answer the questions, it became more manageable. Nonetheless, it still felt like one of the most stressful things I have ever done to myself.

What do you see as the highest-priority areas in cybersecurity right now?

Getting people interested in, and trained in, the cybersecurity field. We have a pressing need for qualified people. Our adversaries are active 24 hours a day, with a single-minded focus on discovering vulnerabilities and attack vectors. That’s not the case for most organizations – we have other concerns and priorities. Being able to stay ahead of cyber threats is going to require a more sustained commitment – and more personnel – than we currently have available.

Because of this demand, it’s becoming much easier to enter the cybersecurity field than before. In the past, it could be difficult to gain entry. For example, many organizations would want you to have the CISSP, but one of the requirements for the CISSP is that you have five years of on-the-job experience – so there was a Catch-22 situation. For a lot of people, these kinds of hurdles were difficult to overcome. With the rising demand, though, there’s been a realization that we can’t afford to overlook skilled, qualified people because they haven’t accumulated this amount of experience, or haven’t earned this cert.

What are the most essential skills needed for success in cybersecurity?

In most cases, you need a programming background. You need the ability to be able to go into a system and recognize vulnerabilities.  Critical thinking skills are also important, as well as communication and people skills -- a cybersecurity professional has to be able to go into an organization, see what is already in place, and make recommendations to decision makers concerning the steps required to strengthen their cybersecurity posture.

Being effective in cybersecurity also means understanding the things that could possibly happen, given a particular situation. You have to take what’s gone on in the past, look at what’s going on currently, and be able to make predictions. This is one reason, I believe, that many military intelligence people go into cybersecurity; military intelligence involves similar skills. You’re trained to examine where an enemy has been, where they are now, and where they will probably show up in the future.

What are some of the specific ways in which adversaries can conduct cyberwarfare to achieve strategic ends?

By now, there is almost nothing that an adversary couldn’t do. Everything is connected to the internet now, which means everything is susceptible to cyber attack.

In a military context, that could mean intercepting communications or infiltrating a network in order to gain intelligence. That includes classified information stored in databases, or information about people’s identities and locations. It could mean shutting down an installation or damaging equipment.

As a professor, what are some of your top priorities? What do you hope to achieve with your students?

I want to them to research what is currently going on in industry, and to obtain some experience, whether through an internship or some other avenue. And I want them to take advantage of every opportunity they can to get certified. Degrees are great, but experience is also important, and certifications are what will set you apart.



Posted by raherschbach on 26 Feb 2018

It will be another first for students at Capitol Technology University: a newly-formed, cross-disciplinary team of young astronautical engineers, computer scientists, and business students is participating in the RockSat program at the international level.

Their mission, dubbed Project Aether, has been selected for RockSat-X Norway. The students intend to observe the effects of the Aurora Borealis on the atmosphere while testing the performance of a new insulation system and comparing data rates from two different sources.

Group photo of the Project Aether team“We have three science objectives that we aim to complete,” said Sophia LoSchiavo, who is co-leading the team together with Marissa Jagarnath. “We’ll be analyzing the composition of the atmosphere, since there’s a chance the rocket will fly through the Northern Lights. We’ll be comparing the data we receive to known data gathered from other flights. Our second goal is to compare the functionality of a hybrid insulation method, which we will modify, to standard multi-layer insulation.”

“Our third goal is to compare data rates from the Iridium satellite constellation to those of the rocket itself,” she said.

In addition to LoSchiavo and Jagarnath, the Project Aether team includes Sam Lawson, Christopher Murray, Erik Schroen, Pierce Smith, and Dean Zinetti.

Capitol is one of a small group of schools around the United States, including Penn State and the University of New Hampshire, that will be participating in the Norway program together with international counterparts. The Capitol team is collaborating with students from nearby University of Maryland Baltimore County, and the Maryland Space Grant Consortium has provided funds needed to secure a berth on the sounding rocket.

Currently the team is building a prototype for the payload, using 3-D printers and other equipment housed at the university’s Fusion Lab.

“We’re essentially building it from scratch,” LoSchiavo said. “We’ve done all the planning ourselves and designed the payload. We’ve submitted the design to NASA and now we’re in the testing and review process.”  In early March, the project is due for its next design review by the space agency, with a focus on subsystems.

The mission marks the first time Capitol students have been involved with an international RockSat program, although successive student teams have participated in Rocksat-X and RockOn! in the United States. Each member of Project Aether has participated in at least one of these programs, thus bringing prior experience to the current mission.

Professor Angela Walters, who chairs the astronautical engineering program, says projects like these reflect the university’s emphasis on practical experience.

“The students need to pass their design reviews to move to the next phase, just as would be the case with a NASA mission,” she said. “That’s great practical experience that students can use in their careers after they graduate.”

“Our goal in general is to provide students with experience doing real space systems engineering,” Walters said. “Plus, it’s just plain cool to build something, have it placed on a rocket, and see it fly into space. Lots of people dream about that kind of experience. Capitol students get to do it.”

Interested in supporting Project Aether through mentorship or financial donations? Contact the team at ctuprojectaether (at)


Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on 26 Feb 2018

Since the start of the new millennium, dozens of high-impact cybersecurity incidents have been reported – with multiple major data breaches occurring in any given year.

Each comes with its own set of lessons for the industries and organizations involved, and for the cybersecurity professionals who endeavor to protect them.

A quick sample:

  • Every single Yahoo user account – all 3 billion of them – was compromised during a 2013 breach, the most massive in history. Its origin remains unclear.
  • A year later, despite more robust password requirements, Yahoo got hit again, with 500 million accounts affected. A report in CSO Online said the data breach began when a Yahoo employee clicked on a spear-phishing e-mail sent by hackers working for Russia. The FBI has an arrest warrant out for Alexsey Beylan, a notorious Latvian hacker it believes was involved in the incident.
  •  In May 2014, Ebay reported that intruders had broken into the company network and gained access to the names, address, dates of birth, and encrypted passwords of everyone using the service – 145 million in all. How did it happen? According to the company, the hackers obtained login credentials for three corporate employees and, as a result, had unfettered access to the network for 229 days.
  • Target traced its late 2013 breach, which compromised around 40 million credit and debit card numbers, back to an HVAC vendor which used a computerized system to remotely control on-site equipment. Hackers allegedly used e-mail spear phishing to infect the vendor’s network with malware, which eventually yielded the credentials needed to access Target’s systems. Once in, the hackers uploaded malicious script to a vulnerable web application, identified attack vectors, gave themselves domain admin privileges, and eventually threaded their way to the company’s Point of Sale equipment.
  • Credit rating giant Equifax announced, in late 2017, that 143 million users – half the U.S. population – had their personal information exposed in an attack traced to a web application vulnerability.

While each cybersecurity data breach has its distinct characteristics, certain themes recur again and again. Human users remain the weakest cybersecurity link, with our propensity to fall prey to social engineering or spear-phishing schemes. Poor password protection, still the case with countless network users, offers adversaries an easy break-in route. Wide-open web applications – often developed with convenience rather than security in mind – provide opportunities for those who know where to look.

Jason Pittman, Professor of Cybersecurity and Computer ScienceDr. Jason M. Pittman, professor of cybersecurity and computer science at Capitol Technology University, sees a broader problem, one which recalls a fundamental rethink of our interactions with web services.

“Perhaps the biggest takeaway from a post-mortem of cybersecurity breaches is that our cognitive models – how we conceive of our relationship to data -- are inherently flawed,” Pittman says. “Would you give a stranger the keys to your house to hold onto for an indeterminate length of time? I would suppose not. Yet, this is precisely what we do when we ‘give’ our data to these organizations. This is data which, in the shared reality we inhabit, is perceived as being extensions of our identities, of ourselves. Moreover, we have no means to manage our data once given away.”

“We’re forfeiting control of something that, in a sense, is more permanent than the keys to a house. After all, we can rekey our locks. Unfortunately, we do not have a reliable way to rekey our identities,” Pittman said.


Posted by svanhorn on 23 Feb 2018

National Engineering Week at Capitol has been a success. With our student body coming out to support the engineering clubs and organizations at Capitol, it’s been a fun week of building, making, and learning. Today marks our final event, a Robotics Day put together by Capitol’s robotics club and IEEE. Come down to the student center from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for robotics demos, industry speakers, and a surprise or two.

As we wind the week down, we can’t help but see the future of possibilities for our student engineers. With that in mind, we decided to ask two of our engineering faculty members three simple questions:

Dr. Nayef Abu-Ageel, Dean of Academics, Chair of Electrical Engineering:

Why did you decide to become an engineer? What drove you towards this field?

Dr. Abu-Ageel: I knew in high school that I didn’t want to go to a medical school, and engineering was the other strong option. My high school friend and I decided to go into electrical engineering together.

In our freshman year, we both enrolled in the same Fortran programming class. I enjoyed the class and did very well in it, which encouraged me to continue my study in electrical engineering. My friend, however, did not do well in the programming class, which prompted him to change his major. He eventually graduated as an architectural engineer.

What accomplishment are you the most proud of that you never would have gotten to without your engineering degree?

Dr. Abu-Ageel: Engineering enabled me to work for a Massachusetts startup on the development of a tunable laser for telecommunication applications. That startup was acquired for $1.4B by Nortel Networks in 2000. Later, I established my own startup and was able to explore technology entrepreneurship for a number of years.  

What one piece of advice would you give to someone without an engineering background who is interested in becoming an engineer?

Dr. Abu-Ageel: If you work hard, you will be able to become a successful engineer and it's worth it. You get to work on innovations that can improve people's lives.

Dr. Garima Bajwa, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Club Mentor:

Why did you decide to become an Engineer? What drove you towards that field?

Dr. Bajwa: My parents being professors too, I used to see them do experiments in the lab. My mom is a food scientist, and my dad is a veterinary scientist. I used to find it cool. You know, adding so much sugar, how does it change? You know, adding this acid to a food product, and my mom used to study the outcome.

This might also apply; we had a car that would always give us trouble. And of course we were not rich, right? So you try fixing it on your own. I used to open the hood of the car with my dad and always go running, you know, I’d leave my homework to see what he was doing. I was very interested in seeing the radiator of the car. It would always be in trouble. And from there I understood what was the purpose of the radiator, how it related to the engine and the cooling effect and how there were such complex things in the car which make it up. It’s not just the four wheels which make it drive. The sense of getting into the complexity of things and what it means to be an engineer I think stemmed from there. When my brother then went into engineering, I followed him.

What accomplishment are you the most proud of that you never would have gotten to without your engineering degree?

Dr. Bajwa: Whatever I am today is because of my degree. I would not have been a professor. The experience of being called, professor Bajwa, doctor Bajwa in the very first semester I was here always reminded me of my parents. My proudest moment might be when I won the three minute thesis competition. I won the university level, where all the universities compete with each other, and then I went into the nationals where you see these different people from different engineering sciences all trying to show what they have achieved in their Ph.D. It was a breathtaking experience.

That eventually led me to win the best doctoral student in my department. Now I see that those achievements are left behind. Now what I see as my achievement is my students achieving.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone without an engineering background who might be interested in becoming an engineer?

Dr. Bajwa: It’s a very tough question, but everybody knows what to do, how to do. The why is what not everybody is thinking about. The engineering field is not cookie cutter; there are a lot of different types of engineering. But like, if you are interested in robotics, what part of robotics? You can be a good programmer and still be involved in creating the robot. You can be a good electrical engineer and help to assemble and come up with awesome parts for the robot. You can be a cyber expert and still be part of a robotics team. On the plate there’s everything for everyone, in every field. You have to pick apart what you like. Why you want to be an engineer should come from how you want to contribute that relates to your interest.

Interested in engineering? Check out our undergraduate and master’s degree programs.

To read more about National Engineering Week at Capitol see:

Celebrating National Engineering Week – Featuring SWE

Meet Capitol’s National Society of Black Engineers: An Interview with Chapter President, Jaylen Fitts

The Future of Rocket Science: What’s on the Astronautical Engineering Horizon in 2018

Student Engineer Spotlight: Featuring Annie Yang


Posted by svanhorn on 22 Feb 2018

Engineer’s week is here, and Capitol engineering students from all specializations are coming together to make it a great week full of learning, community, and geeking-out together.

Annie Yang, an electrical engineering student at Capitol, has been gearing up for engineer’s week for weeks now. One of the founding members of Capitol’s robotics club, Yang promises that the robotics club has something fun planned for the community.

Yang, a junior at Capitol, is also a part of the undergraduate mentor for Flowers High School students’ project. A student position, where Yang helps to mentor high school students interested in learning more about the fascinating world of robotics.

We sat down with her to learn more:

SVH: So, what kind of involvement have you had with the robotics club at Capitol?

Yang:  Currently I’m the secretary of the robotics club. I was one of the founding members too. Two other members, Dean and Jacob, were also founders.

SVH: Can you tell me if the robotics club is planning to do anything cool for engineers week?

Yang: Oh, yeah. (She laughs, but doesn’t elaborate).

SVH: Is it a secret?

Yang: Yes, it’s a secret for now, but we will be ready.

SVH: Let’s change topics, then. What made you want to be a mentor for high school students?

Yang: Well, when I was in high school I was very interested in robotics. And it kind of made me really excited to help others.

SVH: That’s awesome. What kind of projects are the students you’re working with doing now?

Yang: Well, one of them wants to build an autonomous solder.

I give her a bit of a blank stare and she laughs.

SVH: I’m trying to picture that.

Yang: He made an arm.

SVH: Oh!

Yang: Yeah, it is for circuit boards, because with some electronics boards the solder wears off over time and people tend to throw them away, so it’s kind of wasteful. This seeks to solve that.

I’m working with two students. The other student has a different project. He’s working on a teacher robot, where if the teacher is out sick or in bed, he/she can turn on the teacher robot and teach from wherever he or she is.

SVH: That’s interesting. So it’s kind of like…

Yang: It’s kind of like skype on wheels.

SVH: So what drew you to robotics? What drew you to engineering?

Yang: Honestly, as a high schooler, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was kind of, I mean, I liked cooking, I liked doing science, but I had no idea. And then one day my teacher came up to me and he was like, ‘Do you want to join the robotics team?’ And that’s what I did for the next few years and it made me want to be an engineer.

SVH: Knowing what you know now about the work involved in engineering, as you learn more about it, would you have chosen to go into a different field?

Yang: They say no pain, no gain. (She laughs, but then becomes serious.) Not knowing things is kind of annoying, but when you know things and your code works or your project lights up, it’s the most amazing feeling.

SVH: What is your favorite thing about being an engineer?

Yang: Creating things.

To learn more about Capitol’s undergraduate engineering programs contact our admissions department at or call 800.950.1992. 

Come meet Annie and check out the robotics club on Friday during this year’s engineer’s week: February 18th – 24th.