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Capitol senior bridges business and tech

Combining IT with business is a winning proposition in today’s economy, but it’s hard to find a university with a program that melds the two, says Capitol senior Mike Strittmatter, who is currently completing his degree in Management of Cyber and Information Technology (MCIT).

“I wanted to merge the two. I really like doing business but at the same time I really like doing network management,” said Strittmatter, who transferred to Capitol after completing an associate’s degree in networking at Cumberland Community College. “When I was looking around at different universities, I saw there weren’t many options – it was either going into doing more advanced networking, or business. There wasn’t a good middle ground.”

That’s when he heard about Capitol’s program.  “One of my friends, who is also going here now, talked to me about Capitol and so I came down and looked around. I saw they have a degree program that combines both – they have the business AND the information assurance, which is really close to what I was doing in networking,” he said.

The MCIT program aims to produce systems thinkers with both management expertise and technical competence. Students in the program study principles of management, organizational behavior, personnel management, and marketing, among other subjects, and also take IT courses such as programming, network security, secure data communications and data handling.

That made for a good fit, Strittmatter said. “I’m an Eagle Scout so I’m a natural leader, and when I looked at the way the program is laid out, I saw it has a lot of courses that are oriented towards leading and managing teams. I really liked the fact that when businesses look at your resume, they’ll see that you have a lot of leadership and management experience already, as well technical experience. Having a strong network background already, the IT component of the program complements my associates’ degree while the business side gives me the foundation I’ll need for a career in management.”

“I want to do the technical work but at the same time I really want to do management as well, and so it really kind of fell into place.”

Strittmatter’s affinity for business reflects his background: he and his father run a small family company that specializes in furniture reupholstering. He likes keeping busy, and he’s used to juggling classes and work responsibilities. “I’d get bored just sitting around,” he said.

At Capitol he soon sought out opportunities to supplement his coursework with involvement in student projects.  The TRAPSat project, which is focused on developing a method for capturing space debris using aerogel, was of particular interest.

TRAPSat was looking for someone with Strittmatter’s business acumen and he was welcomed on board. “I make sure all the tasks get done in a timely fashion, I make sure our projections for the project closely line up, and I do a lot of part procurement,” he explained. “Once we decide what parts we need, we still have to go through the process of ordering them, which involves procedures and paperwork.” Currently he is Lead Business Analyst/Engineer for the team, which is participating in NASA’s RockSat X program this summer and preparing for a full orbital launch opportunity as part of the CubeSat Launch initiative (CSLI).

On the engineering side, Strittmatter helped design the project’s camera subsystem, aided in the redesign of a raised aerogel support container, helped machine and mill our structural subsystem, and did electrical work on the payload, among other things. “Even though I’m a MCIT student, you don't have to be an engineering major to engineer,” he said. “Having a passion for creating and building things as well as the perseverance to learn the engineering processes and the willingness to do it right is what it really takes.”

He’s also had the opportunity to develop his interest in 3-D printing. Strittmatter says he learned how to 3-D print while at Capitol, and became so fascinated by the technology that he went out and bought two 3-D printers of his own. In recent months, he’s been assisting not only TRAPSat in this area but also the school’s SatNOGS group, which is endeavoring to set up a ground satellite communications system on campus. Many components of the system, including gears, ball bearing housings, and antenna elements have been 3-D printed with Strittmatter’s assistance.

Currently, he is spending this summer as an intern at the NSA, where he says he’s been encouraged to dive further into the information assurance field.

 “My plans are to fuse all these different areas of interest together,” says Strittmatter. “I’m really a jack of all trades – I like to do a little bit of everything.”

Friday, July 15, 2016