Blog

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

Blog

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 admissions@captechu.edu 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.

Blog

Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on 21 Feb 2018

The year 2018 promises to be an exciting one for Capitol’s astronautical engineers, as they finish up projects and await the outcome of some big moves by the space industry.

astronautical engineering projects rocket Astronautical Engineering Projects at Capitol Technology University

Project Cactus-1:

Long-time student payload project, Cactus-1 is in its final build stages. This CubeSat, or miniature cube-based satellite, brings together two student projects: TRAPSat, a debris capture experiment, and Project Hermes, which is exploring methods of satellite command and control via TCP-IP. Cactus-1 is currently on schedule for equipment testing around spring break this semester, with the final launch date pending, but anticipated for the fall.

Autonomous Drones Project:

Several of Capitol’s Astronautical Engineering program students are working to complete their senior projects revolving around autonomous drones. The astronautical engineering department has been getting more familiar with drones, flying drone races about once a month at Capitol open houses. One senior project even includes an aerial zeppelin-like-construct which can stay aloft for much longer times than a propeller based aerial vehicle.

Project Aether:

Capitol's international payload through the RockSat-X Norway program is conducting an experiment and testing two engineering innovations. Project Aether, an advanced communications and spectroscopy payload, is a joint effort between Capitol Technology University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The payload will test hybrid insulation and the Iridium constellation's data rate reliability, and take spectrographic images of the Aurora Borealis to study the atmosphere.

Astronautical Engineering Industry Projects

NASA Exploration Mission-1 Project:

NASA has officially begun their work on Exploration Mission-1, a mission to assess the feasibility of deep space exploration with manned crews. This is the first step in NASA’s plan to send men to Mars by the year 2030.

Space X Falcon Heavy:

On February 6, Space X successfully launched the “most powerful rocket in the world.” This rocket, the Falcon Heavy, was designed with the intention of being able to carry enough fuel, crew, luggage, and passengers to be used for missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.

ESA & JAXA BepiColombo:

The European Space Agency (ESA) has teamed up with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), on their project to launch a planetary probe mission to Mercury in 2018. This probe mission, the BepiColombo, will be the first to really explore Mercury; the least explored terrestrial planet and the closest planet to our sun. This mission hopes to understand more about the history and composition of the inner planets, including our own.

NASA James Webb Telescope Project:

Another international space project to launch in October of 2018 is the James Webb Space Telescope. NASA is leading the project, with help from the European and Canadian Space Agencies, which will use new infrared light reading technology to help us understand the formation of planets, solar systems, and even the universe as we know it. Capitol astronautical engineering alumni are currently working on the James Webb Space Telescope through their positions at NASA.

 

Blog

Posted by svanhorn on 20 Feb 2018

The National Society of Black Engineers was founded in 1975 with the goal to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally, and positively impact the community. According to their website, “With more than 500 chapters and nearly 16,000 active members in the U.S. and abroad, the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) is one of the largest student-governed organizations based in the United States.”

Capitol is one of the many institutions to support a student-run chapter of NSBE. We recently sat down with chapter president, Jaylen Fitts, to see what Capitol’s NSBE chapter has in the works:

SVH: So what’s been going on with NSBE lately? Can you tell me about any important recent events?

Fitts: Last semester we did a Chic-fil-a night. We raised money so that we were able to go to our most important professional event, the NSBE national convention, which will be in March on the 21st-25th. We will be conversing with not only businesses and corporations that we might intern and work for, but also other NSBE chapters and professional organizations that help us prepare for our careers.

SVH: One of your members recently told me that you had teamed up with Howard University’s chapter of NSBE.

Fitts: Well, Howard invited us over; they do a toy drive through their Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority organization. So we decided to stop by and show them our courtesy because Howard was a big factor in us starting up our organization over here and we wanted to bring a few toys for the kids.

SVH: How so? Did Howard’s chapter inspire you?

Fitts: They helped a lot with our transitional period between chapter leaders. It was very worthwhile, our experiences with Howard. So we wanted to show them our support.

SVH: That’s awesome. I love that you guys paired up to do something, it’s very cool.

Fitts: Yeah, It’s very spirit of NSBE.

SVH: So, do you have any future plans in the works at present?

Fitts: In the near future we will be bringing in people from our NSBE professional organization and having them talk to our students and members. They will be talking us through not only job prep, but like also how to grow your network and how to live your life after graduation. They provide somebody to go to with just questions and answers.

And after that hopefully we’ll be doing some workshops that will be geared towards the annual convention. And after that we’re just gonna do fun stuff.

SVH: I’m glad to hear that because I know that our chapter had been a little less active, but recently I’ve seen you guys pick up again.

Fitts: I really want it to be a long lasting thing, so hopefully I’ll just get the gears turning and it won’t stop.”

SVH: What, for you, is the best part of being involved with NSBE?

Fitts: Not only just learning how to become a professional in my career, but also the network. There’s so many talented and inspiring people that I get to talk to daily.

For instance, I was at a meeting with college park and I just found out that one of them was a Rhodes Scholar. It’s just always getting to talk to people who’ve been traveling around the world and talking to huge companies and stuff like that. The people are what I enjoy.

It’s a lot of collaboration, but that’s what I’m here for.

Capitol’s chapter of NSBE meets regularly. If you are interested in joining, please contact them at: jfitts@captechu.edu.

Blog

Posted by svanhorn on 19 Feb 2018

It’s National Engineers Week, and Capitol is pumped to highlight some of our awesome engineers! Check in with us throughout the week as we cover stories featuring Capitol student engineers, engineering clubs, and professors.

To celebrate the week, Capitol’s branch of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) has rallied together the other clubs on campus for a week packed with fun and informative activities for our students on campus. We talked to SWE club president Kimberly Brandenburg about the week to come and what’s next for SWE:

SVH: So Kim, what made you want to get this week’s events together?

Brandenburg: Well, one thing I was a little disappointed with after transferring to this school was the lack of club and organization activity. There were clubs, but the only one that really did any school wide functions was S-LAB.  Though now clubs are becoming much more active with the help of our new Director of Student Life, Brandi McKee, I still wanted to create events that could become staples within the school and bring our own club forward as a driving force within the club/Engineering community.  Plus, it's National Engineering Week, if Engineers don't celebrate it then who will?!

SVH: Can you talk to me a little about the Society of Women Engineers at Capitol?

Brandenburg: SWE is actually the first (and only) club to have a Canvas 'course'.  Sheldon Bryan from Distance Learning was, and continues to be, such a huge help with that. He's kinda my hero (She laughs). The page allows us to keep in contact about all that's going on with our club and also allows us to post events to member's canvas calendars.  It's been vital to our success so far.

Also, recently our member, Zalika Dixon, was a winner in the Grace Hopper Celebration computing competition. Last fall she received a scholarship and cash prize for her idea! We're so proud, and intend to do that same competition again this year! 

SVH: That’s awesome! Is there anything else on the horizon for SWE?

Brandenburg: Yes. Later in the semester we will be hosting a panel of industry professionals to talk about their experiences, give advice, and answer questions.  It will be exciting for the whole school because we are choosing speakers from each of the main majors of our university, and each with a very different background. Some of them are even alumni!

SVH: What motivated you to join SWE?

Brandenburg: So actually, I helped re-establish SWE at Capitol. The last time SWE was active at this university was 2011. In February of 2017, my classmate Christina and I decided we wanted more recognition for females in this field (and in the school, since there are so few of us). And we wanted to create a community where we help each other set ourselves up for successful futures. So we brought SWE back. 

SVH: And we are glad to have you active again. What would you say your favorite part of SWE is?

Brandenburg: Well, not only do we get to participate in school events like Engineering week, we also get the opportunity to go to networking events, join in project competitions together, and attend conferences among other opportunities.  Each member of our collegiate club also has the support and opportunities provided by the national SWE organization as well, which offers great connections, local events, scholarships, and employment information for their members.

MORE ON THIS WEEK’S EVENTS:

Starting on Monday, SWE will be hosting a scavenger hunt and prize wheel event. Tuesday will see Capitol’s branch of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) present a mainstream movie featuring female, African American engineers.

On Wednesday, Capitol’s Fusion Lab, run by our astronautical engineers, will hold a “Find the Pi Challenge.” The engineers of the Minecraft Club will hold a project demonstration on Thursday.

Finally, on Friday the Robotics Club has paired up with IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, to present a Robotics day. There will be demonstrations, industry speakers, and a few surprises for attendees.

All events will run from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the student center for those interested in attending.

Students interested in joining the Society of Women Engineers at Capitol can email kabrandenburg@captechu.edu for more information and access to SWE’s Canvas page.

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 15 Feb 2018

Music plays in the background in a room full of quiet conversation. An occasional giggle breaks out as the students laugh at their artwork.

S-LAB, the student leadership advisory board at Capitol, is actively seeking to provide more events and activities for our student body this year. We recently checked out one of their regular events, Paint and Sip night. S-LAB is currently running the popular event twice a month, and we can see why. We walked away feeling happy, full, and relaxed.

There was plenty of food, from cheese and crackers, to fruit, to marshmallows, and various sparkling beverages for painters to enjoy. Attendees were able to choose from various sized canvases and a wide variety of colors to create their own mini masterpieces.

“Even if painting isn’t your thing, the ability to sit down with your friends for an unplugged activity can be a rare treat,” said director of student life and residential services, Brandi McKee. “You can come in and listen to music and meet new people while keeping your hands busy. It’s a fun time.”

Paint and Sip isn’t the only event S-LAB has brought to Capitol students this semester. In January, S-LAB held a lock-in event, with 70 to 80 students in attendance throughout the night. Students gathered in the library for video games, board games, and food in this all night event.

Also in January was S-LAB’s first annual Glow Party. This dance party was a big hit, with neon lights and a totally tubular 80’s theme.

So far in February they’ve brought us a game party, where students gathered to watch the big game on our big screen in the auditorium, and a silent library event, with competitive games based off of the hit MTV show.

Coming up, S-LAB is planning an improv day for February 23rd. This event will have improvisation-style games which students can participtate in, and should deliver lots of laughs for anyone who comes. Also in the works, a rescheduled Trivia Night with a game show feel.

S-LAB is striving to have more events available to students throughout each month. Some events have even seen the raffling off or giving away of Capitol swag to attendees.

To keep up with S-LAB events, check them out on Instagram at @captechu_slab. Those wanting to join in on the fun can also catch the next Paint and Sip night on February 20th from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. in Room 266.



 

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 15 Feb 2018

Malware at the Olympics: cybersecurity pros weigh in

If it wasn’t clear already, the weekend news out of Pyeongchang demonstrates it once more: nothing is immune from cyber attacks.

An image of the Olympic ringsAs the opening ceremony got under way, the official website for the Winter Olympics went offline. WiFi networks in the Olympic stadium and the press center crashed. Attendees found themselves unable to print out tickets or locate event venues. Reporters had difficulty filing their stories.

The likely culprit? Sophisticated “wiper” malware that was dropped into the network using stolen credentials. Once in, the malware harvested other logins and passwords, hijacked Windows tools used to scan the system, ran scripts and commands, and hid its tracks by cleaning out system and security logs,

“The timing and the nature of the attack suggest that the intent was primarily to embarrass the organizers of the Games,” says Dr. Mary Margaret Chantré, cybersecurity professor at Capitol Technology University. “Unlike many other cyber attacks, this one was not about theft of money or data. Rather, it appears intended to cause disruption and make problems for people during a high-visibility moment at the Olympics.”

On Monday (February 12), researchers from Cisco Talos Intelligence reported that the incident was likely carried out by someone with in-depth knowledge of the Pyeongchang network.

Those responsible “knew a lot of technical details of the Olympic Game infrastructure such as username, domain name, server name, and obviously password," wrote the researchers, Warren Mercer and Paul Rascagneres.

In addition to creating headaches and a potential public relations fiasco, the attackers may have had another motive, Chantre says. “The attack may also have been a way of demonstrating capabilities – of telling the world 'look what we are able to do. We can get into your networks and take them offline.'"

Want to help unmask cyber adversaries and fight attacks such as the Pyeongchang network breach? Consider enrolling in a cybersecurity degree program at Capitol Technology University. Capitol is an DHS and NSA-certified Center of Excellence in cybersecurity education, offering programs at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels. For more information, contact the cybersecurity program at cybersat@captechu.edu

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Posted by Anonymous (not verified) on 14 Feb 2018

For financial strategists and decision makers, the big data revolution can be a double-edged sword.

data analytics financeMore and more information is available, coming from an exponentially growing array of sources – but capturing it isn’t an easy task. Old-school solutions just can’t keep up with the influx.

Important data that should be driving financial decision-making can come from social media, real-time market feeds, customer feedback, sales reports, or clickstream data from websites.

The information can be broad in nature, pointing to general trends. It can also be business-specific – for example, data on the number of patients with a particular type of insurance, or data about how much of a certain product was purchased online, as opposed to a brick-and-mortar store.

Processing all this information requires more than a spreadsheet. Increasingly, businesses are recognizing the need for trained business analysts and data scientists who understand how to differentiate the signal from the noise.

Dr. Michael Fain, Director of Doctoral Programs“Numbers and data should drive financial decisions that administrators make for the mission, vision, and value of their respective organizations,” says Dr. Michael Fain, director of doctoral programs at Capitol Technology University. The university offers business analytics degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, designed to provide students at different phases of their careers with the tools they need to organize big data and recommend strategies for success.

Capitol’s technical master’s in business administration in business analytics and data science program is offered 100% online and caters to working professionals. All of the classes for the business analytics and decision sciences PhD program are also offered 100% online, with a short residency requirement for completion.

 “We teach you how to take data, or numbers, and plug these numbers in to help leadership come up with a strategic plan,” Dr. Fain said.

“Data and business analytics is the degree right now,” he said. “It is cutting edge. It subscribes to best practices. And I think that whatever formulas leaders have used to guide their strategic plans, whether it be for one year or five years, it’s not been until they’ve started using these concepts and paradigms involving data analytics that we can really see some substance in terms of decisions that are made.”

Our world today is data-driven. The company that isn’t taking advantage of that data is going to fall behind the one that is. Becoming the financial resource that companies need is no longer only about having the business knowledge and financial skills to recommend smart company practices. Today, you need to know analytics.

With a degree from Capitol, you’ll be equipped with that knowledge. Want to learn more? Request information on our graduate programs here, or click here to learn more about our bachelor’s degree program.

 

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 13 Feb 2018

It’s no secret: in today’s economy, tech fields have the strongest momentum.

And schools like Capitol Technology University, with its 90-year track record in technology education, are equipping a new generation of students to harness that momentum and build stable, rewarding careers.

“We were doing technology education decades before it became mainstream,” says Dr. Bradford L. Sims, who took the helm as Capitol’s president in 2017. “We started out in 1927 as a radio institute and trained thousands of radiomen who went on to serve in World War II. After the war, we were there for the many veterans who wanted to make the most of the GI bill and launch careers in electronics and engineering. Our focus all along has been on providing educational opportunities in tech fields.”

Fast-forward to the 21st century, and those fields are dominating the economy. A Bureau of Labor Statistics report released in 2017 found that STEM occupations are growing at a rate double that of other fields – 10.5% between 2009 and 2015, compared to 5.2% in non-STEM fields.

“Colleges and universities, many of which did not pay any special heed to tech, are now busy regrouping to keep up with the trend,” Dr. Sims notes. “At Capitol, though, it’s what we’ve been doing all along.”

While technology programs are starting to proliferate in the academic marketplace, Capitol’s decades-long history provides an important asset: with long experience comes a surer understanding of how to teach technology in a way that best prepares students.

“Anyone can put out a shingle and claim to be training students how to do tech,” says Dr. Helen  G. Barker, chief academic officer and vice president for academic affairs. “But do they necessarily know how to teach it effectively, in a way that has tangible impact on career prospects?”

“At Capitol, our institutional expertise has helped us identify approaches that work,” she said. “We’ve responded to successive technological innovations – from radio at the start of the 20th century, through the electronics and telecommunications booms, and into today’s digital era. Through this experience, we’ve been able to identify some of the fundamental attributes of successful technology education.”

Those lessons are encapsulated in an approach dubbed The Capitol Way. Put simply, the Capitol Way means an emphasis on applied learning as well as theory.

Students don’t simply learn concepts out of book, or draw up abstract diagrams of how things are supposed to function. They get down to work on real-life projects – including satellite payloads and engineering innovations.

“Although the Capitol Way goes back many decades, the research that is coming out today strongly confirms the value of our approach,” Barker notes.

In 2015, for instance, a 2015 Association of American Colleges and Universities survey that assessed the ability of colleges and universities to keep up with current economic trends. “Employers strongly endorse an emphasis on applied learning and view student work on applied learning projects as valuable preparation for work,” the AACU said in a summary of the findings.”

Taken together, the trends have put Capitol – for years a small “niche” university, with a student population of under 1,000 – on a path to robust expansion: this year alone, the school is launching an array of new programs, including cyber analytics (undergraduate and graduate), mechatronics engineering, unmanned and autonomous systems, and Technical MBA degrees in cybersecurity as well as in business analytics and data science.

Meanwhile, for students aspiring to undertake high-level technology research, Capitol has unveiled a PhD in Technology, whicy can be tailored to a variety of specific technological fields.

“We feel we have developed a successful model for educating people to become skilled professionals across a wide array of technical and engineering fields,” Dr. Sims says. “With these fields continuing to burgeon for the foreseeable future, institutions like Capitol have an increasingly prominent role to play in the higher education arena.”
 

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 9 Feb 2018

Soren Ashmall is well-known to students in Capitol Technology University’s business programs for his dynamic teaching methods, employing multimedia and even music to reinforce the concepts he is teaching. In addition to being a professor, Ashmall is also deeply involved in the development of new programs at the university, in his role as Associate Director of Master’s Programs and Assessment. We spoke with Professor Ashmall about his academic vocation, his goals and priorities, and some of the activities – both professional and personal – that engage him.

How did you become involved in higher education?

It’s been part of my life from the beginning – literally. I grew up in Ann Arbor, where my mother was a professor at the University of Michigan. My grandfather was the deputy director of the university hospital, where I was born. The university campus was my playground. The law library was where I studied. If my mom was teaching evening classes, I’d grab a meal at the student union. The educational arena, for me, has always felt like home.

Although much of my adult life has been outside of academia, including a 22-year career as a Marine Corps officer and later a corporate executive, I’ve kept up my connection with education – teaching in enrichment programs or as adjunct faculty. It’s something I keep coming back to.

A few years ago, after a successful stint at a major government contractor, I found myself considering the next phase of my career – where I wanted to be, what I wanted to accomplish. After much self-reflection, I recognized that I’ve had an abiding connection to higher education, one that I’ve wanted to explore more fully.

What are some of your goals and priorities with regard to academic programs at Capitol?

My goal is to help the university grow and flourish. Not just survive, but survive and thrive. The way we do that is by creating new programs and degrees that meet emerging needs in our technology-driven economy, and in so doing bring in new students that might not have looked at us before. In this way we remain true to our STEM foundation, which goes back to Capitol’s origins in 1927, while adding new layers.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) recently recognized you for your leadership in its Games and Simulation Network. Could you tell us more about interest in this area?

As a business professor at Capitol, I’ve brought simulations into the classes I teach. These are designed to give students practical experience with the material we cover in class, so that they’re not just learning passively but actually applying what they’ve learned. Some put you in the role of a CEO. In others, you might be part of a team that runs a small coffee house.  In my role in the ISTE, I’ve been able to share our experiences at Capitol, while also hearing about what other schools have been doing.

There is a great deal of discussion today about the importance of teaching technology, but a crucial part of the discussion is about how technology is taught. The old-school method is to stick a bunch of students in a room and bore them with PowerPoints. But seeing a technology explained on a PowerPoint isn’t the same as learning to use it. Simulations not only offer students a more engaging learning environment, but they provide a way to make the critical leap from concept to practice.

You are Capitol Technology University’s representative at the Fort Meade Alliance (FMA). What is the purpose of the Alliance and how is Capitol involved?

Fort Meade is the headquarters of the NSA and the US Cyber Command, and home to 116 federal agencies and military commands. It’s Maryland’s largest employer. The Fort Meade Alliance is an independent community organization that supports the organizations hosted at Ft. Meade, as well as the personnel stationed there, and helps bring about partnerships among stakeholders, including small and large businesses as well as educational institutions.

For Capitol, FMA membership is one of the ways in which we integrate with our community and nurture connections with businesses and organizations in the area. As a local university with a technology emphasis and a 90-year track record of academic support for our nation’s service men and women, we’re in a position to help provide educational opportunities for military personnel at Ft. Meade.

Outside of professional and academic life, what are some of your activities and interests?

Singing has been one of my activities since a very young age, both as part of choirs, and as a soloist. Currently, I’m a member of two different choirs in the greater DC area, and I also enjoy going to watch performing arts. I’m a strong advocate of the view that the arts and sciences go together and reinforce each other.

I also enjoy traveling and exploring new places – and also exploring places I’ve been to before and seeing what’s new. I go back to Ann Arbor periodically and there’s always a new business open, or something new on the campus. Exploration isn’t always about where you go – it’s about the spirit in which you go there.

 

 

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