Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 18 Jan 2017

By Sharhonda Whitfield

Last week at Capitol we began our spring semester. We always wonder what our students are thinking at the beginning of a semester as well as what they expect to accomplish overall. Many students just want to earn good grades or have a relaxing semester, while other students are hoping to land an internship.

Gary Visser, a sophomore and lab manager in the electronics lab, said that “preferably, I would like to get all As this semester as well as get an internship. But really I’m using this semester to kind of calm things down as far as classes are concerned."

"Last semester was pretty hectic so I kind of took a little bit of a breather this semester. So, I’m just looking to have a nice time, get some good grades, and relax before next semester kicks off,” he said.

Another student, Alexander English, said “I’m applying for an internship with a deadline in February. Hopefully I will get it.” He also hopes next semester to “take the classes that I need because they were not offered this semester.”

Many students have decided to relax this semester because during the fall semester they took six classes, or they had three or more classes in one day. Some other students are excited to be taking certain classes that interest them, such as Introduction to Astronomy, Game Theory and Design, Horror Fiction, or  Psychology. This breather will also allow them to be able to apply for many more internships and apprenticeships.

Getting an internship seems to be what many students want this semester. To help students out with this task, Capitol is hosting a Career Conference on Friday February 17th that will give students the chance to meet and talk with employers from different companies and organizations like NASA and Northrop Grumman and perhaps have them look at their resume.

Also, Career Services has started a discussion board on MyCapitol where students can find out about available internships and full time positions.

 We hope that our students accomplish what they set out to do this semester. Welcome back Capitol staff, students, family, and faculty for another great semester.

For more information concerning career services contact Sarah Alspaw at careers@captechu.edu.

Pictured: Alexander English (right) and Gary Visser. Photo by Sharhonda Whitfield.

December is projected launch date for Cactus-1 CubeSat

Student engineers at Capitol are preparing for a major milestone: December has been slated for launching the Cactus-1 CubeSat, developed by a pair of student teams under the mentorship of university faculty.

Cactus-1 is expected to fly aboard a Virgin Galactic Launcher One rocket, designed for sending small satellites into space via a high altitude launch from a carrier aircraft.

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 13 Jan 2017

Management and Decision Sciences professor Dr. Robert Leonard joined the doctoral faculty at Capitol Technology University in Fall 2016. With thirty years of experience as a corporate marketing and communications professional in addition to degrees from three colleges, Leonard aims to build synergy in the classroom by drawing from both his business experience and academic interests.

Leonard has also dedicated significant time in his life to one of his great passions: music. As leader of the Blue Moon Big Band, he and his bandmates have toured the country, appeared on TV and radio, and even landed time on the big screen with the likes of Kevin Bacon and Renée Zellweger.

In the following interview, Leonard shared his thoughts on the management and decision sciences field, his approach to teaching, and the experiences he has gained during a rich and varied career.

What career and academic experience are you bringing to the program at Capitol?

I earned my BA in Communications from Loyola College, now Loyola University of Maryland, and followed that with an MBA at the University of Baltimore. Fifteen years later, I decided I wanted to move into teaching, so I went back to school and earned my doctorate in Applied Management and Decision Sciences from Walden University in 2014.

I’ve had a thirty-year career in corporate communications, marketing management, and public relations – a variety of disciplines that I think are intertwined and synthesize very well together, and are transferable from industry to industry. For the most part, wherever you go, marketing is marketing and PR is PR, and your job is to apply these skills to the specific industry and need. I’ve been in health care, I’ve been in tourism, I’ve been in the legal profession – all doing marketing and communications.

My biggest role was as director of communications with the International Oncology Network -- I really enjoyed the work, loved the company, and appreciated working with physicians and the staff. I left after the company relocated to Texas. Later, I worked for a winery in Pennsylvania for four years, doing business development and public relations. The perks were nice – my wife didn’t mind me bringing home the leftover sample bottles every weekend!

What are your primary academic and research interests?

I’m interested in understanding workflows better, and in how and why companies decide to undertake major organizational changes. It’s been my experience, working in the corporate world, that serious organizational issues often catch management off-guard – and I’ve long been curious as to why this is the case.  

When I was at Walden, I worked with the noted methodologist Dr. Walter McCollum. He was on my dissertation committee. McCollum got me very interested in the chicken and egg conundrum of what comes first: strong leaders or good followers. For me, this question is closely bound up with organizational change. The dynamics within an organization affect its ability to anticipate and respond to change.

What advice do you have for incoming students in the PhD program?

I’ve had new students come to me and express worry because they don’t yet know what their dissertation projects will be. They’re still trying to identify a topic. What I tell them is to narrow it down. Don’t try to take on all the problems of the world; find a specific problem to research and come up with a solution for that. You can go on and fix the world later.

How do you define “management and decision sciences”? What does the field encompass?

It isn’t a tightly defined field; to a certain extent it’s what you choose to make of it. For some thinkers in the field it’s simply about analysis and synthesis of a workflow – that’s what the science of management and decision-making boils down to. Others, though, would define it more broadly.

Part of what we do, both as educators and students, is contribute to defining and redefining the field to respond to changing needs. Because organizational needs change, the field isn’t static. Although there are major theorists, such as Maslow, whose work continues to exert a profound influence, there’s never going to be a single governing consensus as to what you do as an academic specializing in management and decision sciences. There isn’t one single thing we can point to and say, definitively, “this is it!”

The field is continuing to evolve. If we define it too tightly, we might be restricting our future thought leaders – essentially telling them they have to stay in this or that box.

What is your approach to teaching?

I see myself as a scholar-practitioner.  I’ve had a longstanding and deep involvement in corporate marketing and communications management, and my hope is that I can draw that experience into the classroom to benefit students.

I’m not a fan of lectures and I don’t present myself as a lecturer. I prefer to take the approach of being a facilitator – someone who collaborates with the students in the learning process – as opposed to talking at them for three hours, or telling them “here’s what you should know, take copious notes, and when I test you on it I expect you to spit it back.”

I want to be around people who are ready to think, who will take the concepts we cover in class and build their own management theories. The next Frederick Taylor might be sitting in my classroom, waiting to be discovered. I encourage students to fill in the blanks on their own – that’s where discovery begins. It’s more beneficial for students to learn their way through, rather than being told.

What activities and pursuits do you enjoy outside of academia and professional work?

In 1998, my wife and I started a 1940s-style swing orchestra, called the Blue Moon Big Band. We’ve played venues ranging from supper clubs in New York City to wineries to weddings throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. We’ve sold our CDs in all fifty states and thirteen countries, and we’ve been on radio and television. In 2009, members of the band were also in a movie, My One and Only, starring Kevin Bacon and Renée Zellweger where we appeared as the swing orchestra under the direction of Dan Devereaux, Bacon’s character in the movie.  So, you could say I’m one degree of separation from Kevin Bacon!

Family is very important to me. My daughter just turned 13, so she’s at an age where she not only still loves her parents but also thinks we know a lot. So I’m relishing that!

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 13 Jan 2017

By Dr. William Butler, Chair, Cybersecurity Program, Capitol Technology University

The cybersecurity field has been in the spotlight over past months as never before. If anyone was in doubt about its significance nationally and internationally, across a wide array of arenas, those doubts should have been firmly laid to rest.

Hacking and cyberespionage became a hot-button issue in the US presidential election, yielding a swarm of allegations that continue to be investigated. In 2016, it was no longer uncommon to see cybersecurity experts debating each other on national news, and seeking to explain developments to a bewildered public.

Meanwhile, the IoT’s potential to serve as the unwitting host for cyberattacks on a massive scale was demonstrated by a pair of exploits coming in quick succession.

In September, a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) attack took security researcher and investigative journalist Brian Krebs offline, shutting down his website and blog. The attack made use of an “Internet of Things” bot, Mirai, which has reportedly infected hundreds of thousands of security cameras and other devices worldwide.

Mirai is also thought to be the culprit in a massive October attack against Domain Name Services (DNS) provider Dyn. Dozens of services – including Paypal, Twitter and the websites of leading newspapers and broadcasters – were forced offline.

Is it going too far to speak of a “Digital Pearl Harbor”? Probably not. While cybersecurity experts have long been warning about the risks, awareness has been slow to take root among the general public. Recent events will hopefully serve as a “wake-up call” and create the sense of urgency needed to address long-standing security issues – including a burgeoning array of risks associated with IoT devices.

The challenge to cyber security professionals everywhere is how do we secure millions of legacy devices which are already performing important functions within our critical infrastructure and our homes. Academia is beginning to address this issue with awareness campaigns and applying systems engineering processes to system lifecycle support, which includes the concept phase of a new device.

These heady times in the cybersecurity arena coincide with a milestone for Capitol: in November, the university commemorated the 15th anniversary of its groundbreaking master’s degree program in network security, which ultimately grew into the undergraduate and graduate cybersecurity programs we offer today.

Two of the program’s founders – Professors Charles Cayot and David Ward – were on campus for a special ceremony honoring their contributions to the field and to the university. It was an opportunity not only to look back, but also to chart the course forward.

The cybersecurity faculty have been busy getting the word out, with recruiting trips to Fort Gordon and Augusta Technical CC to speak and recruit new students; attendance at the IoT conference in Chicago; and presentations to cyber security students at Volunteer State CC and Delta College.

The department also held its first-ever cybersecurity poster contest, which was won by Sean Mullin and Leif Heaney – both of whom major in disciplines other than cyber!

And, as always, we continued to subject our curriculum to rigorous review, upgrading as needed in order to ensure the education our students receive reflects the most current challenges in the field.

Cybersecurity is entering another era; one that which challenges all disciplines to address the IoT issue head-on and solve it before we’re attacked and our critical infrastructure devastated by a sea of compromised IoT devices.

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 9 Jan 2017

Capitol Technology University will be holding a virtual workshop for students with an interest in applying to the NIST Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF).

The SURF program offers a 11-week summer internship program for undergraduates majoring in chemistry, computer science, engineering, materials science, fire research, nanotechnology, information technlogy, mathematics, biology, manufacturing, statistics, or other STEM disciplines.  The program provides students with hands-on research experience under the mentorship of a NIST scientist or engineer.

Applications for the program are only accepted from colleges or universities, and not from individual students -- so if you're interested in the program, you must go through Career Services.

A virtual workshop will be held on January 25 to help students compile their application materials. Click the link below:

Virtual Session: 2 pm on Adobe Connect http://capitol.adobeconnect.com/surfatcapitol/

If you cannot make it to the workshop, please email careers@captechu.edu to set up an individual appointment.

In addition, NIST will be conducting a webinar on January 24 for all those in tnterested in the program. The event is free but registration is required. For more information, contact Crissy Robinson at christina.robinson@nist.gov or (301) 975-3999.

 

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 14 Dec 2016

Capitol Technology University welcomes the newest member of our electrical engineering faculty, Dr. Chandra Bajracharya. Dr.Bajracharya earned her Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Old Dominion University in 2014. Prior to that, she earned a Master’s Degree in Power Systems Engineering from Norwegian University of Science and Technology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Tribhuwan University, Nepal. An experienced instructor, she has taught both in Nepal and the United States.

In the following interview, Dr. Bajracharya discusses her academic background, research interests and teaching vocation.

What inspired you to become an electrical engineer?

I was interested in science, math and technology-related subjects when I was in high school, and my teachers, friends and family always encouraged me to get into technical field. Given that very small percentage of girls choose to go in STEM field, it was a challenge for me to go into a profession where girls are not very much encouraged, and I was determined to take up that challenge.

What are your research interests?

While doing my PhD, I had an opportunity to get involved in research at the Frank Reidy Research Center for Bioelectrics, ODU where I was introduced to an exciting field of research, bioelectrics, which is the study of the effect of intense pulsed electric fields on biological cells and tissues. Apart from bioelectrics and pulsed power, I’m also interested in renewable energy, power electronics, smart grid technology and communication systems. So these are the areas that interest me most at the moment.

What do you find most rewarding about teaching?

It’s a great responsibility to be a teacher, and the role of teachers in guiding students thinking and behavior is very critical. When you work hard towards fulfilling that responsibility, and you see the students improving their skills, gaining knowledge and succeeding in their career, the sense of satisfaction, I think is the most rewarding thing. And during the process, you also build a bond with your students, and that is also something a teacher cherishes.

What do you feel are the most important attributes for success in electrical engineering?

Just as any building structure needs a strong foundation to be stable, engineers need an understanding of fundamental principles. For anyone coming into the engineering field, strong mathematical background, analytical and problem solving skills, and ability to think critically and logically are important.

What appeals to you about Capitol?

I find that Capitol is very student-focused; the class sizes are small, and the courses are designed to provide theoretical knowledge integrated with hands-on experience. Capitol being a small university has a family-like atmosphere, and that’s what makes the work environment appealing as well.

What are some of your interests outside of teaching and research?

I like to read books and watch sports. I follow college sports with enthusiasm, mostly football and basketball. Other than that, most of my time outside teaching and research is spent with my kids.
 

 

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 14 Dec 2016

Maintaining a connection with the community is vital for any university, including Capitol. This fall, the Puente Library has been working to strengthen its role in the community through endeavors aimed at assisting families in need.

Starting in November library has conducted successive food drives, one ahead of Thanksgiving and another leading up to Christmas, with the donated food going to FISH/Elizabeth House of Laurel.

Meanwhile, the library has also partnered with the U.S. Marines Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots program, collecting donations of toys for children in need.

“We wanted to give back to the community,” Director of Library Services Beth Emmerling explains. “We’re all very grateful that we have food for the holidays, we have housing, we have so many gifts, and we decided that we want to share them with the community.”

Such outreach is also in keeping with the library’s purpose and mission, she said.

“As a librarian, my job is to share information. Is to share what I know so that you’re then empowered to know it,” Emmerling said. “This is another, excellent way for a library to reach out and to share, whether it be information or food – it‘s similar in that you’re giving people something that matters to them.”

Dr. William Vic Maconachy, vice-president for academic affairs, said the campaigns are reflective of the library's mission and of Capitol Technology University's institutional values.

“We’ve always viewed the library as a learning portal – and that includes being a portal for the community. Just this past semester, we’ve held two campaigns to support Laurel community services that feed the hungry. More recently, faculty, staff and students alike came together to provide toys for tots in the local community, who might otherwise not have things under their Christmas tree.”

“These are examples of what I call the great Capitol spirit,” Maconachy said.

Founded in the 1990s, the Puente Library is home to more than 10,000 books, audio/video selections, and periodicals that support Capitol’s technology and business degree programs.  The library includes a multimedia classroom, study areas, a periodical room, workstations for students, and a Business Resource Center. It hosts a variety of student activities and events throughout the year, including a Halloween costume contest, an Edible Book Contest, and a poetry contest held in conjunction with National Poetry Month.

The library is named for telecommunications pioneer John Puente and his wife Beverly. Puente, who served for three decades as chairman of the university’s board of trustees, was instrumental in Capitol’s evolution from a technical institute to a college granting bachelor’s and graduate degrees.

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 30 Nov 2016

Capitol celebrated fifteen years of its groundbreaking program in cybersecurity this month, honoring program founders at a special event at the McGowan Center on November 14.

Professors Charles Cayot and David Ward shared their recollections with attendees of the event. They also highlighted attributes of Capitol’s program which, in their view, continue to differentiate the university from its competitors.

“Our faculty is multifaceted,” Professor Ward said. “We have folks from the military, government and private sector – for all the major corporations that are involved in cybersecurity, we have had a member of our faculty, past or present, who has worked for them.”

Cybersecurity at Capitol dates back to 2001, when the university launched a master’s degree program in what was then known as network security. At the time, the subject was generally available at colleges and universities only as an elective, often as part of a computer science program.

Today, Capitol offers programs in cybersecurity at both the graduate and undergraduate level. The doctoral program, founded in 2010, was the first of its kind in the nation – and alumnus Dr. Jason Pittman, who is on the university faculty was the first person to earn a D.Sc. in the field.

Undergraduates can earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Cyber and Information Security, and a master’s degree in the same discipline is offered online. Capitol also operates a Cyber Lab, which provides opportunities to test cybersecurity skills in real-time scenarios, and students also have the opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary projects that combine expertise from several technology fields.

Capitol, Ward said, is “uniquely positioned” for the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) due to the combination of programs available at the university, as well as the school’s emphasis on collaborative learning.

“When you walk into this building [the McGowan Center], you’ll see evidence of the space program, the cyber lab, and robotics. Now, what is the Internet of Things? It’s all these machines and devices that are coming together," Ward said.

“At Capitol we have advanced engineering, advanced computer science, advanced cybersecurity, advanced radio frequency analysis – we’re already there. We already have this symbiotic relationship happening right in front of us.”

Professor Cayot, in his remarks at the event, said the Capitol program was innovative not only because of the field it covered, but also because it helped pioneer a new kind of educational experience: the virtual classroom.

“One thing that a lot of people don’t understand is that Capitol was one of the first  schools in the country to provide live, synchronous online education. We even had to write code for the platform. When we started, we didn’t have Adobe Connect. We didn’t have Centra. It was Capitol, and we built that program,” he said.

Capitol president Dr. Michael T. Wood, academic dean Dr. Helen Barker and Dr. William Butler, chair of the cybersecurity program, also spoke at the event.

Photos: (1) Professor David Ward, (2) Professor Charles Cayot

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 15 Nov 2016

The aspiration to undertake a doctoral degree can come about for many reasons. For some, it’s part of a planned teaching career. Others have nurtured a lifelong interest in the world of academe.

For Robert Flowers, who earned his D.Sc. at Capitol in 2016, the key factor was discovering that many of the major innovations in the computer and networking fields resulted from work done by academic pioneers and thought leaders.

“When I looked back at key technological developments, there was always someone with the letters “Dr” in front of their name,” Flowers said. “I wanted to be part of that.”

For example, work by Dr. Robert Metcalf, who co-created Ethernet, led to the Internet. Another pioneer with an academic background, Dr. Douglas Englebart, invented the mouse.

And it was Stanford professor Dr. Donald Knuth’s book The Art of Programming that helped Flowers devise ways to radically streamline the work he did at Navy Federal Credit Union – where he has been employed for nearly two decades. Flowers subsequently performed a portion of the independent study for his Capitol doctorate while taking courses at Stanford. He credits his vice president at Navy Federal, Sharon Poach, for encouraging him to explore both experiences.

Now Dr. Flowers is poised to make his own contributions, with a focus on the emerging field of network steganography.

“Network steganography is the exfiltration of data using network packets,” Flowers explains. “As a network engineer, I spent a lot of time doing packet traces and trying to understand or isolate where problems were with the network. I saw there was a way to get data out of an organization via the packet headers, and not many people were looking at this.”

As he delved into the topic, Flowers found that steganography has already been implicated in the exfiltration of U.S. state secrets by Russian intelligence while also playing a role in the battle against terrorists.

When he made the decision to undertake a doctorate, Flowers knew he had a choice of programs available to him. He selected Capitol because he felt it was more clearly structured than some of the other options.

“The other programs I looked at were all over the place,” he said. “Someone obviously put a lot of work into laying out this program,” Flowers said. “You know exactly where you’re going to be in the program at a certain point in time. There was no doubt I was going to complete the dissertation and graduate within a reasonable time window.”

Dr. Flowers defended his dissertation, Impact of Cisco and Linux Firewall Protection in Data Exfiltration via IPV4 Network Steganography, in February 2016. Dr. Flowers is currently working on plans to market some of the ideas related to his doctoral research.

“Once I finish that process, the sky’s the limit!”

 

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 14 Nov 2016

Student engineers at Capitol have received welcome news about their aerogel-based space debris-capturing project: data received from an August rocket launch has demonstrated that their system works and is ready to be flown into space.

TRAPSat, as the project is known, was launched aboard a sounding rocket in August during NASA’s RockSat-X program. The team equipped their experiment with a camera used to record images and provide data that could be used to prepare for the next milestone – an orbital mission expected to take place next year as part of the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI).

Because the TRAPSat experiment was pushing data in real time, NASA was able to obtain images and readouts – even though an unexpected anomaly led to the RockSat-X payload not being recovered following the launch.

“It proved that our cameras worked – we got around 30 sets of images and about 60 temperature readouts,” said TRAPSat’s lead engineer and principal investigator, Ryan Schrenk. “We were able to get good pictures, prove our system works well and is ready to be flown on Cactus-1.”

According to Pierce Smith, a student team lead for TRAPSat, the team was looking for specific information about some of the project subsystems.

“One of the things we were curious about was that our Raised Aerogel Support Container was made out of plastic. It’s the thing that holds the aerogel which we’re using to capture space debris. And one of the things we were concerned about was that it is made of plastic. The reason we had to make it out of plastic was that it needs to be precise enough at the corners. You can’t get that with milling,” he said.

“We were worried that the plastic construction could lead to outgassing while in space. Outgassing refers to little particulates that can coat the camera and stick to the lens. One of the good things we learned was from the RockSat X pictures is that it didn’t outgas, and if there was any outgassing it didn’t cover our camera. And that tells us that using plastic – or at least that amount of plastic – in space would be okay for what we needed,” Smith said.

The launch also provided an opportunity to assess the quality of the images that the project receives while in space, said Christopher Murray, also a student team lead.

“In our design, the camera points straight into the aerogel, with a Mylar sheeting covering it. Aerogel takes in light differently – sometimes it’s a bit foggy or dark. We found out during the flight that we had the right amount of sunlight piercing through the Mylar sheeting. Between this and the camera flash, we were able to see it clearly, as though it was window glass,” Murray said.

Moreover, data from the TRAPSat camera was able to assist NASA in determining what caused loss of the payload. Some possibilities – such as a malfunction with the despinning mechanism -- were ruled out on the basis of images from the camera.

The success at RockSat-X means that the testing phase of the project is now done and the time has come to put the system to work and see its abilities, Smith said. The next step is for the project to be flown into space and placed into orbit. That is expected to happen with a NASA launch in the winter of 2017.

“We’re hoping for a three month mission – but we’re going to plan for a lot longer,” he said.

According to Schrenk, the project demonstrates how powerful results can be achieved through system engineering principles, even with relatively simple equipment.

“We were able to build this payload – designed by students and built by students – and then get images from a $30 camera at 95 miles above the earth. That’s pretty incredible, getting a keychain camera to work at that altitude.”

“By following the systems engineering process, we’ve been able to go from balloons to rockets and now to a orbital launch,” he said.

PHOTO: Ryan Schrenk (left) and Pierce Smith.

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