Posted by raherschbach on 15 Aug 2016

By Dr. Michael T. Wood, President, Capitol Technology University

They don’t need GPS to figure yardage to the hole.

Their mastery of trajectory, slope and wind variation allows them to always choose the right club.

They know the number of dimples on golf balls for best aerodynamic performance….ditto for grooves on golf clubs.

They know how to put a small round ball into a slightly larger round hole.

They have plenty of time to think about the next technology solution as they walk or ride 100 – 200 yards to their golf ball 18 times.

Golf appeals to their spirit of perfection.

Still, they can shoot a “10” on a hole without swearing…much…I think.

They appreciate golf as an eco-friendly endeavor (so long as divots are replaced and ball marks repaired).

The game gets them away from their computers for a while (unless they’re carrying one of those automated scoring devices).

Golf awakens their individual potential for achievement and their social skills, playing with three others for four hours or so.

There is always a laugh or two, at the expense of somebody’s funky shot off a tree or in the water.

They understand why an 18-hole round of golf requires 19 holes.

And, because golf is a SCIENCE!...or an Art…or both.

So, Geek or other – Registration is open for Capitol's 8th Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament for Scholarships. Get a foursome (or we’ll put you in one) and sign up. It’s an opportunity to have fun in the great outdoors and enjoy camaraderie, along with a bit of athletic pursuit that anyone can do. Weather at the end of September should be grand, and the course at Turf Valley will be in great shape. Enjoy continental breakfast, golf and lunch with fellow students, staff and friends of Capitol. All net proceeds go to scholarship support of our students. September 30, 2016, 9am tee. Contact Dr. Donna Thomas at or 301.369.2543.


Posted by raherschbach on 15 Aug 2016

NASA’s Orion program anticipates human travel to the “Red Planet” by around 2035. And when that happens, Carl Hansen hopes to be on the ground control team.

“That’s my life goal: to be on the flight operations team for the first manned mission to Mars,” says Hansen, a 2016 graduate in astronautical engineering.

An Avrum Gudelsky scholarship recipient, he has furthered his aspirations both at school and in his career by gaining a wealth of practical experience in systems engineering. While at Capitol, he was part of Project HERMES, which is developing a system that uses the internet protocol to control high-altitude payloads. He participated in the RockOn! and ROCKSAT-X programs, helping to build the Hermes payload for a rocket launch provided by NASA.

Currently, he works for Honeywell as a console engineer, assisting with the Aqua and Aura satellites on the Earth Observing System mission. “We have twelve hour shifts, either day or night. Typically I’ll come in and monitor the spacecraft passes, make sure that the spacecraft downlinks its science data properly. If there’s an issue, either with the ground stations or the spacecraft, you have to troubleshoot.”

Internships while completing his degree helped Hansen make a smooth transition from school to job. “I’ve been working in control centers for three years now, while also studying at Capitol,” he notes. “My career and my education have gone hand in hand. There have been times when I’ve learned things at school that I’ve been able to apply immediately at work, and times when I’ve learned things there that I could then take with me into my classes at Capitol. I’ve learned simultaneously both here and there.”

“I’d like to become a systems engineer on a manned mission. Towards the future I’m going to be looking at the International Space Station, and potentially the Orion program.  Systems engineering for human space flight is really, really cool,” Hansen said.

It’s an interest that first burgeoned during his teen years, when Hansen and his friends built Lego spaceships and imagined what it would like to be inside one, flying towards the stars. Later he had the experience of encountering a highly realistic space environment created by a Newtonian space flight simulator. By his junior year in high school he knew he wanted to become a space flight engineer; the only question was which school would provide the best opportunities.

He considered several options in the region, but a visit to the Capitol campus made the decision easy.

“After touring Capitol and seeing the Space Operations Institute when it was acting as a backup control center for the TRMM and TOMS-EP missions, I realized that Capitol really had it together,” he recalls. (While both TRMM and TOMS have ended, the SOI continues as the home of a newly launched Space Flight Operations Training Center).

While many schools offer broad programs that cover aerospace as well as astronautical engineering, Capitol’s program is focused specifically on astronautical – allowing students to delve deeper and acquire expertise more quickly.

“Many of my fellow team members say they had to take courses that aren’t really related to what they are planning to do. At Capitol, by contrast, we had more in-depth classes that get you ahead in terms of space flight operations and space systems engineering. Some of those highly specialized classes, such as spacecraft dynamics and control, spaceflight communications, or orbital mechanics, are considered by many to be graduate-level classes. Being able to take them as an undergraduate put me farther long in my education.” Hansen said.

“They really train you well to become a space systems engineer,” he said.


Posted by raherschbach on 10 Aug 2016

Receiving data from CubeSats and other Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites can be tricky: their passes over a given location last only a few minutes. That’s not enough time to download images and other large files.

This summer, Capitol students and their counterparts in the university’s Brazilian summer exchange program were involved in a project designed to address this problem.

The solution? Create a network of satellite ground stations around the globe, linked by computer and equipped with software that can co-ordinate the sharing of data – thus allowing a user in one part of the world to communicate with a satellite even when it is no longer in range.

The SatNOGS network, launched in April 2014, currently has three live ground stations, with several others in development.  It was designed with experimenters in mind, with stations that can be constructed for under $500 using readily available tools and the help of a 3D printer.

As it expands, the network will be able to provide vastly enhanced capabilities for retrieving status and telemetry signals as well as payload data from a wide range of LEO satellites, including the International Space Station (ISS).

“SatNOGS consists of a group of stations that are connected to the network; through the web you can download data from satellites even when they are not flying over your ground station,” explained Jonathas Kerber, who studies computer engineering at UFAM-Universidade Federal do Amazonas and was a participant in the Capitol summer exchange program, dubbed Capitol CubeSat Intensive. “If it’s within range of another ground station in the network you can still access your satellite, which is very helpful.”

Adjunct professor Nathan Weideman supervised the project, with Capitol students Xavier Allan and Jackie Cleves serving as teaching assistants. In addition to preparing documentation for SatNOGS, Allan and Cleves constructed a dome that will house the antenna system on top of the McGowan Academic Center and protect against weather hazards.

Weideman says the SatNOGS node will be an asset to ongoing satellite projects at Capitol – including TRAPSat, which is focused on collecting space debris with the help of aerogel.

With TRAPSat, we want to be able to retrieve images, Weideman noted. “And that requires constant contact with the satellite. Normally when you’re in LEO you get 7 to 11 minutes, as it passes over you, and that’s it. And often that’s just not long enough to download the data. With enough of these stations, in theory, you could have an orbit that’s constantly in contact -- so you can push things down like photos.”

Kerber, who worked with the antenna controller and tracking software, says the summer program experience was valuable because he’ll be involved in similar activities when he returns to Brazil.

“I will be a ground station manager at my university, and this was a first try that gave me an opportunity to see what should and shouldn’t be done. With this experience, it will be easier to get a team together and make things work quickly,” he said.


Posted by raherschbach on 8 Aug 2016

Ken Mayer has devoted much of his professional life to designing curricula and course content, and in developing ways to deliver them to students. He learned database programming while still ­­­­in high school, and maintained an interest in computer science while majoring in Greek and Latin during college. He was involved with an internet startup, delivering courses to high schools, prior to joining Capitol Technology University. In addition to supervising the university’s online education platforms, he is a member of the adjunct faculty, teaching mythology and other humanities courses.

Capitol embraced online education early on and continues to show a strong commitment to this mode of delivery, especially at the graduate level. Why?

The interaction between our professors, who are working professionals, and our students, who also are often professionals in their fields, is a key component of our success as an institution.  That’s why Capitol was an early adopter of online technology. Because we’ve wanted to have professors who are working, they needed to be able to teach in the evenings. Our students, too, are often only available in the evenings. Online was a natural outflow of that. We’re still very much about professionals teaching professionals, and it makes sense – in this fast-paced world – to do more things online.

What is the guiding philosophy beyond Capitol’s approach?

The key terms would be “live” and “interactive.” That was something that was missing in my previous job, where we were sending out course materials without getting any data back. These were primarily asynchronous, work-at-your-own-pace materials, and we had no metrics available on how students responded to the materials.

When I came to Capitol and looked at examples of the classes being offered, it was great to see that students were engaged and interested in responding in real time, and that the professors were responding to them. I see that as something unique about the Capitol experience, in comparison to a lot of other online programs.

Do you see a role for asynchronous delivery? Are there situations where asynchronous would be appropriate?

Sure. In fact, a lot of our courses are blends of live and asynchronous.

What do you see as some of the stand-out capabilities of our distance learning platform?

What really stands out is how the professors use it. When we have, for instance, faculty members  teaching cybersecurity, they will use the capabilities of our live platform in order to have students share their screens and work together on programming, live. They might collaborate in a diagnosis of malware in a virtual computer, with one student logging in to the virtual machine and sharing the screen to the class so that everyone can work in real time on diagnosing the problem. Meanwhile, the professor will be there, commenting and showing the students where they are on target or going off track. The professor can also take over control, if needed. So it’s hands-on in a way that’s actually not even possible in a traditional classroom.

How did you become involved in distance learning?

I started out as a database programmer in high school, then went to college and studied Greek and Latin – while still keeping up with computer science. In the early 2000s I was involved with an internet startup, delivering courses to high schools, and after that I came to Capitol. I’ve done a lot of work in designing tests and curricula, and in developing ways to deliver them to students.

Where do you see distance learning going in the future? What’s on your wish list?

I’d like to see more in the way of interactive quizzes and other assignments that can be incorporated within the live classroom. There are vendors with products that would enable us to conduct quizzes in Adobe Connect and then bring them back in and grade them – and this feature would even be accessible to students who listen to the recordings of the class session, as opposed to being there in real time.

Currently, our class recordings are useful supplements – allowing for review or reinforcement – but they don’t always work well as stand-alone materials. That is, you wouldn’t offer the recorded sessions on their own, without the context of the live class. I’d like to see us give more attention to developing recorded material that would work asynchronously as well as live. The software needed is not expensive; the challenge is producing the content. 


Posted by raherschbach on 25 Jul 2016

Have you ever wished, while studying for a test, that you could go back and listen to the class lectures again so you could review key points?

Have you ever taken notes only to discover later that you missed something important?

One of the most popular capabilities of Capitol’s online learning platforms is that all lectures are recorded and archived for later use. For Melanie Young, a student in the MBA program, it’s been a key contributor to academic success.

Young says that having this resource available often means she can clarify questions without having to e-mail the instructor, and it’s also a significant study aid at exam time.

“Having the class session recordings is invaluable,” Young says. “Since I’m kind of a night owl, I sometimes work on assignments at a time when it’s not exactly feasible to contact my professor. Being able to go back to the recordings for clarification on notes or slides helps me get things done on my own schedule.”

“The recordings are available for the duration of the term, so I can go back and review them any time I need to. That’s a tremendous asset when studying for midterms or finals. In a regular classroom setting, the lecture happens and then it’s over. Having the lectures captured and available for later use is one of the best things about distance learning at Capitol,” Young said.

Capitol’s online master’s programs, including the MBA, are tailored for working professionals, like Young, who need to balance their jobs and academic schedules. All classes are scheduled in the evenings, with commute times factored in – and because the lectures are recorded, students don’t have to worry in the event that they miss a session due to overtime at the office, gridlock on the ride home, or a missed connection during a business trip.

Young, who previously took master’s-level classes at another institution before starting the program at Capitol, says she appreciates the extent to which the university accommodates the logistics involved in combining academic and professional life.

“The start times allow me to get home and get settled before the class begins,” she said. “Evening classes for the master’s programs at my old school started at 5 pm so I had to ask permission to leave work early every time I had class which was extremely inconvenient.  The program is also designed to really make the most out of the eight-week sessions so the MBA can be finished in a timely manner and help people advance in their careers more quickly.”

The accessibility of faculty members is also a huge plus, Young says.

“The faculty for the program are seasoned in their fields of expertise so I can trust that I am receiving instruction from people with real career experience who really know what they’re talking about,” Young says. “And they’re very accessible. My professors have been amazing about making sure they were available by phone and email to address any questions or concerns we had about the material. I had one professor, Jack Felsher, who said we could contact him for help even when he was on vacation with his family.”

 “That level of dedication is impressive,” she said.

Capitol currently offers, in addition to the MBA, online master’s programs in computer science, cyber and information security, electrical engineering, information systems management, and internet engineering. For more information, contact the graduate admissions office at or phone 1-800-950-1992.


Posted by raherschbach on 19 Jul 2016

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.”

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).


Posted by raherschbach on 14 Jul 2016

A group of area high school students are on campus this week, gaining a detailed overview of computer networking at a brand-new camp launched by Capitol this summer and led by Professor Andrew Mehri. It is the second of two new camps offered this summer; an earlier one covered programming.

Capitology spoke with Mehri on Thursday, day four of the networking camp.

“We began with a general introduction to how the internet works, then moved on to the layering mechanism,” he explained. “We went into the OSI and TCP-IP models, and looked at the network the way a networking professional would see it.”

The camp participants aren’t just learning about networks, however; the camp is also giving them practice in applying what they learn.

“On day three, we went full hands-on,” Mehri said. “We started out on the physical layer by putting cables together, then moved up a layer to where they used hubs and switches, and then today they’re going be using routers. They’ve already been introduced to the application layer, by watching data on the network with WireShark. They understand what a packet is, what the payload looks like, what headers and trailers are – so they’re really getting a full picture of the technology involved in a network.”

The camp wraps up Friday with a session on network security, both internally using virtual LANs, and externally using firewalls.

Students drawn to the camp generally have an interest in computers but do not necessarily have any prior experience with networking, Mehri said. The event is open to any student in grades 10-12 with an interest in digging into the technologies underlying today’s internet and finding out how it all works.

Capitol plans to offer both the programming and networking camps in future summers. To find out more, contact the academic dean’s office at


Posted by raherschbach on 13 Jul 2016

Dates have been announced for the next series of virtual info sessions for prospective doctoral students. These "virtual open houses," conducted via Capitol's distance learning platform, provide an opportunity to talk with faculty, become familiar with program goals and requirements, and ask questions about a full range of topics related to doctoral study.

Sessions will be held at 7 pm Eastern Standard Time on the following dates:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Register here. After your registration is received, we'll send you a link containing information on how to access the session of your choice. 

"It's an opportunity for prospective students to speak with and meet our dean of academics and other members of the academic team, as well as faculty members who teach in our doctoral programs," explains Meghan Young, director of admissions operations.

Capitol's graduate programs are conducted online, via a real-time "virtual classroom," and the info sessions also provide an introduction to  that environment.

"It offers a chance to see what the virtual classroom looks like, and to become familiar with the various tools and capabilities of our platform," Young says.

Capitol currently offers two doctoral programs. Our DSc program in cybersecurity, established in 2010, balances a strong theoretical foundation with research and hands-on experience. It aims to prepare graduates to be leaders in the field's top organizations, including federal agencies and private companies. 

In 2015, Capitol launched a PhD program in management and decision sciences, designed to prepare sensior professionals for senior positions in either the public or private sector. Through a rigorous and varied curriculum, students cultivate high-level decision science skills, and contribute to the field with innovative and practical doctoral research.


With new facility, Capitol Technology University offers enhanced satellite op training

Learning to command and control and spacecraft requires both knowledge and practice, but being able to obtain hands-on training is often a challenge for students. Opportunities to assist with actual missions are limited and – understandably, given the costs and high stakes involved –little direct responsibility is placed on students.