Harry Abell '70
During a long and successful career as a security expert and project manager, Harry Abell had many opportunities to observe the kinds of qualities that make for career success. A graduate of the Capitol Radio Engineering Institute (CREI), as Capitol College was once known, Abell went on to work for major corporations such as IBM and Abaci Consulting, with a special focus on infrastructure and utilities. He retired in October 2013 after working for fifty years, and now lives on Lookout Mountain in northwest Georgia. According to Abell, the best team members aren’t necessarily the smartest. Dedication and work ethic count more. “At the consulting companies where I worked, we had a lot of young people joining us,” Abell said. “One thing that I always looked for [in making personnel decisions] was whether a person had a great attitude, really wanted to work hard, and was willing to do whatever it took.”
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Duane Aldrich '60
Duane Aldrich’s fascination with electronics started when he was a child. His father was an electrician, and young Duane was eager to accompany him to work and learn the trade.
From his father, he learned how to wire switches and receptacles, and to run lines of cable. By the time he reached high school, he was already earning money by wiring houses on weekends and during summer vacations. A professional in the trade hired him, provided him with a truck and a 35-year-old assistant, and told the teenager to be careful driving, as the electrician’s auto insurance did not cover anyone under the age of 25.
By that time, he had also built his first AM radio. Certain about his calling, he searched for ways to build his career. A family friend had taken correspondence courses from the Capitol Radio Engineering Institute (CREI), as Capitol College was then called, and Duane decided to enroll in its residence division after he graduated from high school in 1957. To finance his training, he also worked for CREI as a night stockroom employee and as the institute’s electrician; later, he was an instructor in the AC and DC labs.
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Terrence Bacon ‘07
When Terrence Bacon started college, he knew he wanted to do something involving computers. But coding wasn’t what appealed to him the most. “I initially started out doing software engineering, but the emphasis was a little too much on programming for me and I wasn’t a very strong programmer,” he says. He was more interested in designing networks, configuring systems and troubleshooting any problems that came up.
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Jerry Davis '03
A 2003 graduate of Capitol College’s master’s program in network security, Jerry Davis has channeled his lifelong love of technology into professional achievement, becoming a thought leader in his field. As chief information officer and head of the Information Technology Directorate at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, Davis helps keep the center at the cutting edge while providing vital support to NASA missions. Davis, who served in the Marines, also worked as chief information security officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to that, he served as NASA’s chief information security officer and deputy chief information officer for IT security. Davis spoke with the Capitol Chronicle about his career path and how his Capitol College experience helped in achieving his goals.
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Allen Exner '89
If you want to know what the legends of rock and pop music are like in person, catch Allen Exner in a spare moment and he’ll give you the scoop. Exner, a Capitol alumnus and the university’s director of academic computing, has met many of them.
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James C. Foster '02
James C. Foster has built his career around keeping ahead of cybersecurity threats. In addition to heading up ZeroFOX, The Social Risk Management Company, which he co-founded in January 2013, he has written dozens of books, given briefings to Congress, and become a sought-after keynote speaker.
Vulnerabilities that leverage social media platforms are at the forefront of his current concerns. Speaking to Forbes earlier this year, he warned that adversaries are becoming more and more sophisticated and capable, while companies are lagging behind in their capacity to fight back.
“Social media has emerged as one of the primary means of hacking into an organization. Attackers utilize information derived from social media to breach servers, send spam, poach Web traffic and sales leads, as well as target and steal intellectual property,” Foster wrote.
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Marc Fruchtbaum '13
Marc Fruchtbaum is not the kind of person who chooses a narrow niche and stays in it. He likes to continually broaden his range of expertise, learning about new areas of interest and mastering the technology and logic associated with them while maintaining a results-oriented perspective.
“Some of the key phrases that I live by are ‘get it done, make it happen,” says Fruchtbaum, who became interested in computers and IT while a middle school student in Los Angeles – and then proceeded to set up his own small company, attracting high-end clients that included movie stars and local businesses.
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Hans Henrik Junge Hansen '66
Hans Henrik Junge Hansen has worked a radio operator on commercial ships, served on a UN peacekeeping mission in the Middle East, helped pioneer the field of satellite communications, and assisted dozens of countries in setting up their communications systems. His career has placed him at the cusp of technological change and taken him around the world.
And it all began with a Sunday newspaper column that he read as 13-year-old in his native Denmark.
“I was delivering a Copenhagen newspaper come rain or shine in a rural community in Denmark,” Hansen said. “Every Sunday the paper had a children’s column which I used to read before I started my delivery route.”
“On one particular Sunday, the column had detailed instructions on how to build a radio receiver using simple components – a so-called crystal set – which without a power supply would be able to pick up radio signals from a nearby broadcast transmitter, provided the antenna was long enough. My passion for radio communications was sparked immediately and on that Sunday I had several complaints from my customers about late delivery of the newspaper.”
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Seria D. Lakes, D.Sc. '14
“Telehealth has revolutionized how health care is administered,” writes Dr. Seria Lakes in her new book, Telehealth Security: An Examiination of Variance in Telehealth Security Breaches. While the potential to improve accessibility and efficiency is enormous, so too are the potential risks of exploitation by cybercriminals. These risks – and the steps organizations can take to mitigate them – are the central concern of her book.
Ninety percent of organizations surveyed by the Ponemon Institute in 2014 reported at least one telehealth breach over a two-year period and 38% reported more than five breaches. In several recent cases, cybercriminals have pilfered data and then tried to extort ransoms; one facility, Virginia’s Prescription Monitoring Program, was presented with a demand for $10 million. In addition to demanding money and exposing organizations to legal liability, criminals could potentially endanger patients’ lives by interfering with telesurgery procedures or manipulating medical systems.
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Larry Laws, '13
Sometimes all it takes is one enterprising individual to make a difference.
Larry Laws ’13 knows that. When his employer, BGE, was looking for ways to diversify its relay and control team, Laws stepped into help.
He visited his old high school to meet with students and tell them about opportunities at BGE. And he also got in touch with Capitol Technology University, his college alma mater.
He knew that Capitol has a diverse student body and that it produces well-qualified graduates in the field of engineering. Working with personnel at the university, he arranged BGE booth presence at Capitol career fairs. The company eventually hired two Capitol EET graduates. Capitol students have also interned at BGE during the summer through a program initiated by Laws, who served as a subject matter expert on Capitol’s power engineering advisory board during 2014 and 2015.
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Frank Leo '70
During the course of a long and varied career in aerospace, computer engineering, healthcare technology and academia, Frank Leo has brought about many notable achievements.
As manager of the electronics laboratory of the Naval Research Observatory during the 1960s, he helped pioneer a new device for measuring sidereal time – which is based on determining the earth’s rate of rotation relative to the stars, rather than the sun. He was also involved in developing one of the first high-capacity computers. Later, as a NASA contractor, he worked for the famed engineer Dr. Werther von Braun and assisted with the launch of four scientific satellites.
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Andrew McNicol '13
Staying ahead of hackers requires knowing about the vulnerabilities that are available for them to exploit. And that’s why security professional Andrew McNicol spends part of each work day playing the bad guy.
“On any given day I'm trying to hack one or two websites, trying to brute force passwords, enumerate information disclosure via Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) gathering, and leverage both manual and automated testing techniques to enumerate exploitable vulnerabilities -- it's pretty fun,” says McNicol, who works for a contracting firm that provides information security support for the Department of Defense (DoD).
A self-described “security geek” who is “addicted to learning” and likes sharing his knowledge with others, McNicol also co-produces Primal Security, a blog and podcast that offers tutorials and news about the information security field. Web applications, security testing, exploit development and Python are among his core interests.
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Steve Noonan '00
“Communication is foundational to the human experience,” says Capitol electrical engineering graduate Steven Noonan, who has spent a good part his career designing, implementing, and managing systems that help people communicate. “Whenever I feel I’m getting lost in the bits and bytes, I think about how the technology is being used: what needs to be accomplished, and what I’m really enabling people to do.”
Today we communicate in a variety of ways that people of a prior era might have deemed magical: like taking a snapshot at the park and instantly uploading it to social media or video calling over the web and across long distances. Not only do these applications have a tremendous “wow” factor, but they also help with very human concerns, he points out.
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Nicole Patton '07
Nicole Patton wears multiple hats, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. As an IT manager for Lockheed Martin, she manages a $3 million budget and leads three different teams: one that manages nationwide e-mail support services for a government client, another that’s responsible for software development, engineering and packaging, and a third that provides on-site support for executives and staff in the DC area. She also investigates new technologies that can potentially help the client – the Department of Housing and Urban Development – enhance and streamline its operations. Taking on varied roles is a natural for Nicole, and it reflects her lifelong interest in combining a technology focus with a people-centered approach.
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Ryan Schrenk ‘15
Alongside his academic work at Capitol, astronautical engineering graduate Ryan Schrenk founded what has become one of the most notable student-led projects in the school’s history. TRAPSat, now in its fifth semester, has been experimenting with innovative ways to trap space debris; it is now part of the university’s CACTUS-1 project, selected for launch by NASA in 2018 as part of the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). Schrenk, who returned this fall to begin his master’s degree, continues to be closely involved.
"When I initially came to this college, I intended to study electrical engineering. I attended a meeting of the VelcroSat organization, however, and I realized they were posing a very interesting challenge: how to address the problem of space debris. And no solution was being presented."
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Amie Seisay '10
It was during a round of job interviews that Amie Seisay began to consider the possibility of starting her own company.
She was having a frustrating time with the job search. Nothing seemed to be the right match. Increasingly, she came to feel that she had not clarified her goals. It didn’t make sense just to interview for the sake of interviewing. Maybe, she decided, it was time to ask herself what exactly she wanted to do.
“I realized that what I like doing the best is development work and building out environments for organizations, through installing and configuring SharePoint. If I had my own company, I could focus on that,” she said.
Fast forward a year and her company, Seisay IT Solutions, is up and running – and attracting clients.
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David Shifflett '01
Computer science and engineering are always in flux. And for David Shifflett, a Northrop Grumman cybersecurity system engineer, US Army veteran and Capitol alumnus, it’s this ongoing change and expansion that makes his line of work most exciting.
“I love the field because it is always growing,” he says. “There’s really no end to what we can get to.”
Shifflett has witnessed that process of change firsthand, having been introduced to computer science as a child in the late 1960s. His mother, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, was one of the first Cobalt programmers. As “university kids,” Shifflett and his siblings grew up around computers and learned how to make them work: “ones and zeroes were our first language,” he jokes.
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Audra K. Woodley '00
Ten years into her professional career, Audra Woodley pondered her next move. Should she go back to school and obtain a graduate degree?
"It became obvious with all the heightened interest within the computer security environment, pursuit of a graduate degree was paramount in order to stay current and marketable," she said. "Computer systems and related fields became the focus; operating systems were all competing for that leading edge of security protection. This piqued my interest and set me on the path to understanding the technological advances within the security environment hence graduate degree." Returning to school was not a decision Woodley took lightly. Completing two undergraduate degrees at two institutions had left her "burnt out", she says. Moreover, she needed to find a program that would not disrupt her professional career and that she could integrate into her busy work schedule. That's where Capitol College came in. "Capitol offered a 'fast track' program, which offered the ability to complete entire program in less than two years. I believe I completed in 20 months with a 3.8 GPA ," Woodley said.
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