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Posted by raherschbach on 22 Jun 2017

When Zenas Valentine decided to begin a master’s degree in cybersecurity, he wasn’t sure how it would go. After all, he had just graduated from college. He’d be in a program that drew working professionals, some twice his age, with significant career experience. Did he have what it takes?

As it turned out, Zenas not only successfully completed the program, but did it in one year – half the time that is normally required and with a 3.99 GPA.

“It was a challenge put forward by my dad,” Zenas explains. “He had previously challenged me to finish my undergraduate degree in three years instead of the normal four, and I did.”

Dr. William Butler, chair of the cybersecurity program, and Sarah Alspaw, associate director of career services, sat down with Zenas and worked out a plan. They were encouraging, but forthright: finishing in one year was possible, they said, but it wouldn’t be easy. Typically, a master’s student takes two or three courses a semester, each of which meets twice a week. Zenas would have to take as many as five. That translated into a lot of classroom time, not to mention homework and exams.

“I was meeting every day of the week for class. Every day of the week I had homework; every day I had projects,” he recalls.

Zenas credits God for his blessings, and his father for encouraging him to strive towards an ambitious goal. He also believes the support shown by Capitol staff and faculty played a key role in helping him achieve that goal.

“Not many schools will take the time to nurture a student who may not have had much experience going in,” he says. “My professors and advisors at Capitol were aware I might struggle at the beginning, but they were behind me all the way. Because of their support I was able to become a better student.”

Capitol also assisted with his career search as he finished the degree, putting him in touch with an employer that had hired Capitol graduates before and was impressed with the caliber of the university’s students. He quickly landed the job.

Now, as a cybersecurity professional, Zenas has a new perspective on his master’s degree education. Capitol, he says, was able to prepare him for real-world challenges because courses in the program are taught by professors who actually work in the field.

That amounts to a level of training that goes above and beyond what many other schools have to offer, he suggests.

“With professors who are in the field every day, who came from work to teach you, the element of experience is added,” he says. “That makes a huge difference. The textbooks are there to teach you the concepts, and then the professors are able to add to that with real-life scenarios and experiences. So you’re not just gaining knowledge; you’re learning how that knowledge can be applied in different situations.”

“Transferring experience into knowledge is not easy. The professors at Capitol are exceptional at transforming their experience into knowledge and meeting the student’s level of understanding.  That makes the difference in generating future cybersecurity experts, and that is the specialty at Capitol,” Zenas says.

“I’ve come to appreciate this even more since completing the program and going to work,” he says. “Studying alongside professionals from the industry and taking classes taught by experts prepared me to fit into the industry. When I look at technical documents or when unexpected situations arise, I’m not nervous or flustered, because I feel I’ve seen and done this before. The master’s program prepares you not just to have a degree in hand but also to have the experience necessary to perform at work.”

With two degrees under his belt, and two challenges from his father successfully met, what’s next on the horizon? Zenas says he is looking at certifications and plans to begin studying for the CISSP, considered one of the major professional milestones in the field.

“Everyone should have goals, and be motivated by goals,” he says. “If you don’t have a goal, you’re never going to push yourself hard, because you have no endpoint to reach.”

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 14 Jun 2017

With nearly every technological field reliant on computerized systems, cybersecurity awareness is important for engineers as well as cyber professionals. Yet few schools incorporate cybersecurity education into their engineering programs.

Capitol has taken a step to close that gap by launching a new course that brings together students in two of the university’s flagship programs – astronautical engineering and cybersecurity.

As part of the course, which is focused on simulation and modelling, students learn how to operate drones – and infiltrate them via security holes. Student teams engage in competitive exercises that require them not only to test their drone flying skills, but to apply their knowledge of drone vulnerabilities to hack their competitors.

In another course segment, students use modelling to devise strategies for drone-based disaster relief in scenarios such as the 2016 Ellicott City floods. While planning and executing the disaster relief, they must deal with adversaries intent on sabotaging the efforts.

“The idea with this course is that half the students are going to come from a cyber major, and the other half from astronautical or electrical engineering,” explains astronautical engineering professor Dr. Sandy Antunes, who co-teaches the course together with cybersecurity professor Rick Hansen. “One group is going to know the hardware but not how to secure it, and the other group’s going to know how to secure it, but not the hardware. We do some IA material and some AE material, and we do a lot of hands on.”

“When you go out to work, you need to be comfortable outside of your niche,” Antunes notes. “If you’re a hardware person, then you need to know a little about software and about security. If you’re a software security person you need to know about the hardware assets and the operational environment.”

Antunes says the university is committed to providing more courses of this nature and cross-listing them across programs. Doing so allows students to complete their major requirements while also interacting with other fields.

“We have students who really want to go outside their discipline,” Antunes says. “Our goal is to provide an opportunity for them. It’s not a neat academic exercise; it’s what people hire.”

“Companies like General Dynamics and Orbital come to us and say ‘wow, your students are out interacting with people from other majors. We didn’t do that until we hit the workforce.’ The career market is faster-paced now; our graduates don’t have time to slowly ramp up in jobs,” he says.

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 14 Jun 2017

When Bryant Rogers II walked across the stage to receive his computer engineering degree from Capitol Technology University this May, he had many accomplishments to be proud of. He is a recipient of Capitol’s golf scholarship, awarded annually to a student with a strong academic track record. At Commencement, Rogers received an additional honor: he was a co-recipient of the university’s Distinguished Student Service award, together with fellow graduate Karen Tavarez.

During his time at Capitol, Rogers not only excelled academically, but found time to contribute to campus life. During the blizzard of 2014, he was part of the group that built a now-legendary snow cave near the student dorms. While that massive edifice vanished with the advent of warmer weather, Rogers has since spearheaded another project that is not subject to the changing seasons. Thanks to the efforts of Rogers and fellow students, Capitol’s student center is now home to a Linux-driven arcade game console, dubbed Capcade.

The idea occurred to Rogers one day as he was mulling over ways to enhance the student center, which serves as a social hub for students between classes.

“I thought it would be great to have an arcade there,” Bryant explains. “But they’re way too expensive. As an engineer, you’re always looking for ways to make something better and cheaper.”

He continued to think about the concept and talk it over with friends. At some point, he says, the recognition came that it could actually be done. A group of students, he saw, could indeed build arcade and program it with any number of in-demand games.

 He also realized that it would make a good senior project.

“My friends thought it was a great idea, and they started helping me. Everything came into place,” he says.

“We had a business student who secured funding, a computer science major who worked on the programming, two electrical engineering majors who helped me with the soldering, and a cybersecurity student who worked on the interface,” Rogers said. “The project brought all these different majors together.”

His team also included younger students, who can continue to maintain the arcade now that Rogers has moved on.

The result of their efforts, Rogers said, is a machine that surpasses most commercial equivalents.

“Most arcades, besides costing too much, only feature one game per machine,” he said. “Ours is simpler, cheaper, and open-source. It doesn’t require expensive parts if something happens to it. It’s customizable and can offer a variety of games on the same console.”

“I put out a list asking for game suggestions and it filled up in one day, he said. “People love it.”

 

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 30 May 2017

With cyber threats increasing both in variety and volume, the need for building up the cybersecurity workforce through education and training has never been greater. Capitol is getting the word out about the university’s cutting edge cybersecurity programs by participating in key industry events, such as this year’s National Cyber Summit in Huntsville, Alabama.

Organizers describe the event, to be held from June 6-8, as “the preeminent event for cyber training, education and workforce development aimed at protecting our nation’s infrastructure from the ever-evolving cyber threat.” It is expected to draw thousands of attendees, including representatives of the healthcare, automotive, and energy as well as the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.

“The event features educational training sessions, technical and management presentations, and keynote addresses from world-class speakers in the field of cybersecurity,” director of graduate admissions Xavier Richards said. “It’s an opportunity for Capitol to engage individuals within that arena, and to showcase what we have to offer as an NSA and DHS-designated Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) in cybersecurity education.”

“Capitol was invited to this event specifically because of our CAE designation,” Richards said. “Having that CAE designation is very significant. It’s the gold standard for academic programs in the field.”

“Students look for the CAE designation when they are considering their choice of schools, because they know it will unlock greater opportunities for them. They know the level of education they receive will be more reflective of emerging trends and the current standards, and that they will be taught by the very best,” Richards said.

Capitol Technology University offers bachelor's and master's degrees in Cyber and Information Security as well as a doctorate in cybersecurity. Numerous post-baccalaureate 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. The doctoral program in cybersecurity, launched in 2010, was one of the first of its kind in the nation.

The university received its initial CAE designation in 2003, and was re-designated in 2009. In 2014, Capitol received a further re-designation until 2021.

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 25 May 2017

Cybersecurity professionals will gather at the Information Assurance Symposium (IAS) in Baltimore from June 19-21 to exchange knowledge and strategize ways of addressing today's emerging cyber threats. Capitol representatives will be on hand to inform participants about the university's pioneering programs in the field, including master's and doctoral programs that are offered online and tailored to working professionals.

"This is a very exciting event for us to be attending," said Xavier A. Richards, director of graduate recruitment. "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 help get 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 designed to accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals. Like all of Capitol's graduate degrees, these programs 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."

Capitol was one of the first institutions of higher education in the country to offer graduate-level degrees in cybersecurity, as well as one of the first to offer cybersecurity degrees online. The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have designated the university as a Center for Academic Excellence (CAE).

“Having that CAE designation is very significant. It’s the gold standard for academic programs in the field,” Richards said.

"Students look for the CAE designation when they are considering their choice of schools, because they know it will unlock greater opportunities for them. They know the level of education they receive will be more reflective of emerging trends and the current standards, and that they will be taught by the very best,” Richards said.

Over 2,500 practitioners and leaders in the field are expected to attend the IAS, held annually by the National Security Agency's Information Assurance Directorate. Through a series of presentations, panel discussions, and training sessions, attendees will gain a thorough overview of emerging developments in this critical field.

The IAS will be held June 19-21 at the Washington Convention Center. More information here.


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