Information Technology

Kevin Stanfield – The new age of environmental research and drones

Posted by | Computer Science, Environmental Biology, Geographic Information Systems, Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology | No Comments

IMG_5053Kevin Stanfield just graduated from Hood, with a Master of Science in Environmental Biology, and a certificate in Global Information Systems, and his thesis related to environmental science and the use of drones and computational/remote sensing techniques​.

The thesis, “Developing Methods to Differentiate Species and Estimate Coverage of Benthic Autotrophs in the Potomac Using Digital Imaging,” involved finding a way to use drone imagery to quantify coverage of benthic vegetation in the Potomac River. “When I started my thesis track, I went to each of the professors in the Environmental Biology Department and explained my interest in GIS and riparian ecosystems before asking whether they had any ongoing research in this area.” Dr. Drew Ferrier, Kevin’s advisor, had been looking into quantifying benthic cyanobacteria coverage in the Potomac with digital photography. Dr. George Dimitoglou, Associate Professor in Hood’s Computer Science Department, had been working with Dr. Ferrier on this and other projects and had used drones to look at benthic features in the Potomac the year before. Dr. Dimitoglou was willing to join Kevin’s committee and provide his drones for the project. The committee was rounded out by Dr. Kevin Sellner, a senior scholar at Hood, and a cyanobacteria expert. All three provided an immense amount of feedback and advice for the project. They also brought in many of their friends and professional contacts who provided data, equipment, and input on the research design.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD DNR), National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) all lent aid in the form of equipment or data. Kevin presented his research at the Western Maryland GIS Users Conference, hosted by Hood on May 18th, 2018. He presented to the National Park Service in late June. “My thesis took almost two years to complete, from my first meeting to my final revisions. It was a difficult process, but I am very happy to have gone through it,” concludes Kevin.

Before starting his Hood journey, Kevin could not decide between Environmental Biology and Geographic Information Systems. Hood College happened to have a program that combined the two, and was also local and competitively priced. “In the end, the decision was easy”, says Kevin. He believes the Environmental Biology program has prepared him well for this field. The incorporation of GIS into ENV shows that the department has current knowledge of what employers and researchers are looking for in program graduates. Kevin will soon be starting a GIS internship with the National Park Service through the American Conservation Experience. During this 34-week internship, he will be mapping the easements and rights of way which cross the C&O Canal National Park and attaching any legal documentation or relevant information to the spatial data.

What advice does Kevin have for both incoming and current students in the Environmental Biology Program? “I would encourage incoming graduate students to make friends with everyone in their program, both students and professors. Not only do you have similar interests, but these people will soon be your professional peers. This will give you a pool of professionals to reach out to if you are in need of work or workers. I would also encourage students who are pursuing the thesis track to choose research that they will enjoy doing, because it will consume your life for a year or two, and it is a lot easier to make yourself work if you are also having fun.”

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Classes start soon! Register today. Learn more about our programs designed for environmental biologists:

Environmental Biology,M.S.

GIS Certificate

The Outstanding Student in Information Technology Award

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology | No Comments

The Hood Graduate School awarded its 2017-18 Outstanding Student Award in Information Technology to Michelle Lynne Johnson. She was honored at the College’s Graduate Degree Recipient Reception. Hood thanks Gary Corsar for funding the award.

michelleMichelle graduated Cum Laude from Hood College with a B.A. in Law & Society in 2009 and returned in 2017 for her Master of Science in Information Technology. While an undergraduate student at Hood, Michelle received convocation honors and was inducted into the Lambda Epsilon Chi and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies. Hood was an easy choice for Michelle’s graduate studies, due to its good reputation, perfect size and a well-balanced program with helpful professors. “The atmosphere is welcoming, and the staff and students are friendly. I also enjoy meeting people from different countries” adds Michelle.

Michelle currently works for the State of Maryland’s Judiciary Administrative Office of the Courts/Judicial Information Systems Division as a Systems Software Analyst. She works on state-wide implementation of the Maryland Electronic Courts (MDEC) project. Michelle obtained her current position while working on her Hood Master’s. She previously worked as a District Court Systems Implementation Specialist for MDEC. Michelle has received recognitions for her leadership and technical excellence throughout her professional career.

Congratulations to Michelle and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors!

Dr. Liz Chang – 46 Years of Service

Posted by | Computer Science, Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology, Management of Information Technology, STEM Education | No Comments

Liz ChangDr. Elizabeth “Liz” Chang was honored with a Years in Service Award by the Hood College Graduate School at the recent Graduate Degree Recipient Reception. Retiring from Hood after 46 years, Dr. Chang has made invaluable contributions and served our students and the institution with unparalleled dedication, commitment and distinction. “Her contributions to the College are too many to enumerate fully,” emphasized Dr. April Boulton, Dean of the Graduate School, at the ceremony. Professor Chang came to Hood in 1972 to teach in the Department of Mathematics where she taught at all levels of the curriculum. Always academically curious and energetic, she became interested in an emerging field, computer science, and working with another mathematics professor, she spearheaded curricular innovations that introduced the first programming course at Hood.

Fast forward several years later, when, while teaching hundreds of students in mathematics and developing several new courses in computing, she created the Computer Science program. The growth and interest in the program was such that in the early 2000s the college established the Department of Computer Science. Professor Chang switched her focus and taught exclusively in the new department, where she served for many years as the department chairperson, designed the Web minor, helped develop master’s programs and served as a graduate program director for many years on different occasions for most of our programs. Dr. Chang was active and resourceful in bringing only the best to her students. For instance, in 2015, Dr. Chang was awarded an Academic Innovation Grant with her proposal to develop “Flipped Classroom” materials for Web Development classes, when she created materials that allowed students to explore technical content before practicing it in class and to review it after class.

Professor Chang has taught across virtually all of our undergraduate and graduate programs including courses in mathematics, the core curriculum and the First Year Seminar. Even now, her students from decades ago remember her courses fondly and never miss an opportunity to express the impact her teaching had on their lives and professional careers. Her service to the College spans more than four decades of continuous leadership and innovation. Congratulations to Dr. Liz Chang for an outstanding 46 years of service, and we wish her a very happy and interesting retirement!!

What Will You Remember?

Posted by | Clinical Counseling, Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights, GSA, Information Technology, Reading Specialization | No Comments

D7R_3305It’s time to celebrate those completing their Hood College Graduate School degrees! We wanted to know what they celebrated about Hood. Throughout their time here, what was their favorite memory? From their professors to experiences that will help them in their fields and the friends that they made, all of the graduates had great memories to share…

 

Kevin Stanfield, who is receiving his M.S. in Environmental Biology, enjoys remembering the antics of some of his favorite professors, like “watching Dr. (Eric) Annis describe an ecological niche considering n variables in an n-dimensional hyperspace using interpretive dance” and how “Dr. (Eric) Kindahl can deliver riveting two-hour lectures without saying ‘um’ or ‘ah’ or misspeaking even if you intentionally try to derail him.”

 

M. S. in Reading Specialization recipients Megan Ramsburg and Emily Sikora talked about the reading clinic as their favorite memory. Megan said “this might sound silly, but Summer Reading Clinic may be my favorite (and hardest) memory of the program. It is amazing how much we were able to help these struggling readers in only 6 weeks. Plus, I enjoyed my time with the other clinicians immensely. They really made this experience my favorite memory. We became a family who were able to provide emotional, instructional, and motivational support to each other on a constant basis. The experience truly tested us in so many ways and yet, provided us with the skills and confidence in ourselves that we (some days) didn’t know we had.” Emily agrees, saying “I was able to see how the application of the skills that I learned had an impact on the students I was working with. During this time, I also developed a close friendship with the other clinicians. We supported each other to analyze the data and provide prescriptive instruction to the students.”

 

For M. S. in Counseling graduate Merrideth Wile, her favorite memory is all about her relationship with her fellow students. She explains “this is not a specific memory, but I cherish the friends I’ve made.” Mia Zimnik, another Environmental Biology graduate, agrees when she said “after my first round of finals myself and the rest of my cohort went out downtown to celebrate. We were all so happy to be done with our first exams of grad school, so proud of ourselves, and were all feeling very relieved! We continued this tradition up until this past round of finals, and it really helped get us through the exams.”

 

Mir Abdul Wasay, who will receive his M.S. in Information Technology and is the outgoing president of Graduate Student Association (GSA), said that “I’m going to miss the GSA events. They are sweet memories for rest of my life and I will not forget trip to New York with some amazing friends and colleagues.”

 

Lois Johnson-Mead, who is also a graduate in the Environmental Biology program, chose a memory that connected her learning with hands-on experience and a chance to practice her skills. She explains that being “invited to travel down the Potomac River to assess the health of the Chesapeake Bay oyster population on a historic buyboat for a marine ecology course was one of the favorite, all-encompassing memories I have as an ENV graduate student. Being a part of a discovery team showed me the potential of my graduate degree and connected me with real world issues and possible solutions.”

 

Stay tuned to hear about our graduate’s future plans!

Michelle L. Johnson – How a Hood IT degree can help your career

Posted by | Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology | No Comments

MichelleLJohnsonMichelle Lynne Johnson graduated Cum Laude from Hood College with a B.A. in Law & Society in 2009 and returned to Hood in 2017 to begin he Master of Science in Information Technology. Hood was an easy choice due to its good reputation, perfect size and a well-balanced program with helpful professors. “The atmosphere is welcoming, and the staff and students are friendly. I also enjoy meeting people from different countries” adds Michelle.

Michelle believes obtaining a master’s degree in IT has been helpful in her career. “I have gained an understanding of the seven domains of IT and how they affect the overall system.” She has also gained an overall knowledge of many different areas of IT, including networking, database management, system engineering and data mining. Knowledge in each of these areas has been beneficial to her current position as systems software analyst. Michelle’s job requires her to troubleshoot users’ issues with the system.
Those issues usually involve different domains and not just the software application. Therefore, she has been able to take the information she is learning in classes and apply them in her current job.

For the final project in her Summer of 2017 Web Development class, Michelle had to create a five-page website showing the skills learned in the class. She was able to incorporate that information to create a page that simulated a checkout page and hide the information on the page until the user selected items to purchase and clicked checkout. The class also had a contest in order to see which group could produce the best website.  “The females won due in part to our website having these extra features and being operational for the demo.”

She believes she is learning the most current information because some of the things she learns are even being implemented by her employer on a regular basis. “So, when I get an email about a new policy or procedure I know exactly what they are talking about and why they are doing it”, says Michelle.

Michelle’s advice to someone considering applying for the IT degree program at Hood? Take as many of the different types of IT classes as possible because they are interrelated, and help to build the overall picture. For example, learning about how the databases are designed has been very helpful when users get errors. “I have been able to take my knowledge of databases and figure out much faster what the user may have done wrong or if there is a bug in the application.”

Cotton Speaker Series Launches the Cybersecurity Master’s Degree at Hood

Posted by | Cybersecurity, Graduate School Highlights, GSA, Information Technology, Uncategorized | No Comments

29261699_10155019431981261_2321211411516096512_oOn April 5th, Hood College will present the first lecture in the John C. and Janet Hobbs Cotton Cybersecurity Endowed Lecture Series. Janet Hobbs Cotton ’59 and husband, John Cotton have provided the college’s new cybersecurity master’s program with a generous gift by establishing the lecture series, which will bring nationally and internationally recognized leaders in cybersecurity to campus.

“My husband and I believe that funding a cybersecurity lecture series will be a unique way to promote Hood as it moves forward with the master’s program in this field,” said Janet. “It will give students a more in-depth understanding of the climate surrounding cybersecurity problems in the world. Members of the Washington, Baltimore and Frederick communities will be encouraged to participate and become more aware of the issues our society faces today.”

The first lecture, slated for 7 p.m. in Hodson Auditorium in Rosenstock Hall, will feature retired four-star general Keith Alexander and mark the official launch of Hood’s Cybersecurity Master’s Program. The importance of establishing a new cybersecurity program is especially emphasized in this time of “the global cybercrime epidemic”, predicted to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021 and creating an unprecedented shortage of cybersecurity workers, according to Cybersecurity Business Report.

More specifically, a shortage of 3.5 million cybersecurity workers is being predicted by 2021, with a cybersecurity unemployment rate of 0 percent (zero!) in 2016. This astonishing figure is predicted to stay constant till 2021, as there are currently two job openings for every one qualified professional. This lack of cybersecurity talent is obvious in both the US and abroad. The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) recently predicted that India alone will require one million cybersecurity experts due to its expanding economy. Despite having the largest IT talent pool in the world, it is highly unlikely that India will be able to produce an adequate number of professionals to meet the demand.

Upper level management positions related to this field are also in a pattern of steady growth. Approximately 65 percent of large U.S. companies have a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) position, up from 50 percent in 2016, according to ISACA, an independent, nonprofit, global association. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that all large companies in the world will have a CISO position by 2021. With all these astonishing predictions and numbers being generated in the last several years, the Hood Graduate School is proud to continue its leadership in the field with the establishment of the new Cybersecurity Masters of Science Program.

 

For more information about the John C. and Janet Hobbs Cotton Cybersecurity Endowed Lecture Series, please click here.

The Specter and Meltdown Vulnerabilities: a CPU/Architecture Perspective

Posted by | Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Information Technology, Management of Information Technology | No Comments

SpecterMeltdown-Pierce-HoodCSSpecter and Meltdown, names given to a recently discovered vulnerability that affects almost every computer chip manufactured in the last 20 years. If exploited, attackers could gain access to data previously considered completely protected. The Specter and Meltdown flaws work by exploiting two important techniques used to make CPU chips execute faster, called speculative execution and caching.

Speculative execution allows a CPU to attempt to predict the future to work faster. For example, if the chip determines that a program contains multiple logical branches, it will start calculating the values for all of the branches before the program decides which branch to take. When the correct branch is determined, the CPU has already produced the values for that branch. If the CPU sees that the same function is frequently used, it might use idle time to compute that function so it has what it thinks the answer will be ready if needed.

Caching is used to speed up memory access. Random access memory (RAM) is located on separate chips and it takes a relatively long time for the CPU to access data in the RAM. There is a special small amount of memory storage called CPU cache that is built on the CPU chip itself that can be accessed very quickly. This cache memory gets filled with data that the CPU will need soon or often. Data that is produced by such speculative execution is often stored in the cache, which contributes to making it a speed booster. The problem arises when caching and speculative execution start circumventing protected memory.

Protected memory is a foundational concept underlying computer security. It allows a program to keep some of its data private from some of its users, and allows the operating system to prevent one program from seeing data belonging to another. In order to access data, a process needs to undergo a privilege check, which determines whether or not it’s allowed to see that data.

A privilege check can take a relatively long time. Due to speculative execution, while the CPU is waiting to find out if a process is allowed to access that data, it starts working with that data even before it receives permission to do so. The problem arises because the protected data is stored in CPU cache even if the process never receives permission to access it. Because CPU cache memory can be accessed more quickly than regular memory and due to the long latency associated with privilege checks, the process can potentially access certain memory locations that it shouldn’t be allowed to access. As this problem exists in the hardware there is no direct way to correct it. Software patches have been offered to mitigate the exposure but have led to some degradation in performance of the CPU. In many cases, the software patch is targeted at a specific product and installing the wrong patch can severely impact system operation.

The most immediate action security teams and users can take to protect computer systems is to prevent execution of unauthorized software and avoid access to untrusted websites. Security policies must be are in place to prevent unauthorized access to systems and the introduction of unapproved software or software updates.

Bill Pierce

*Prof. Bill Pierce, the author of this article, is an Assistant Professor of computer science at the Department of Computer Science & Information Technology at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Computer Architecture, Digital Logic and Switching Theory, Digital Signal Processing and Musical Computing.*

Protect Yourself in 2018 with These Cyber Tips

Posted by | Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology, Management of Information Technology, Uncategorized | No Comments

17_CyberSecurity_Tshirt-1Each time we use our computer or device while on campus, we become a node on the College’s computer network. Being called a “node” may sound impersonal, but in reality it is an automatic assignment of personal responsibility. When it comes to computer security, a network is only as secure as its weakest link. This means that each one of us, (each node) must exercise a great deal of responsibility when using network resources and while connected on the campus network. Here are four common cases that may compromise your personal security and impact campus network security:

#1 Never Respond to Emails Asking for Personal Information
No colleague, friend, IT support professional or vendor with whom you interact should ever ask via email for account information, credit card numbers or passwords. Under no circumstance should you ever respond to such information requests via email.

#2 Never Respond to Calls about Tech Support You Did Not Initiate
A common new scam is receiving a call from a “Helpdesk” or “Microsoft Tech Support” about your computer. Legitimate technical support organizations respond to inquiries by their users, they don’t proactively call their users to “fix” unreported problems.

#3 Ransomware
Ransomware is a special type of malware. Be suspicious of any emails trying to trick you into opening infected attachments or clicking on malicious links. Common sense is your best defense. In addition, backups are often the only way you can recover from ransomware.

#4 Scam Alert: Your Trusted Friends Can Hack Your Facebook Account
If you receive a message from any of your Facebook Friends asking for urgent help to recover their Facebook account, because you are one of their ‘Trusted Contacts,’ don’t blindly believe it. Researchers have detected a new Facebook phishing scam that can trick even an experienced technical user into falling victim to the scam, helping an attacker gain access to your Facebook account.

Any of the above may compromise your system or device (e.g. tablet, phone) or allow scammers to obtain your personal information. More importantly, any of these will make you the “weakest link” in the College’s network, putting everyone else in danger of further exploitation. Computer security is, unfortunately, one more thing we must be vigilant about. But with some common sense you can keep yourself safe and contribute to keeping the campus computing environment safe for all of us.

 

By Eddie F. Hamad M.S.’18 (Cybersecurity), CISSP, CEH and George Dimitoglou, Ph.D., Program Director, Cybersecurity

How a Hood graduate degree can help you get a high-paying job

Posted by | Accounting, Bioinformatics, Biomedical Science, Business Administration, Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Financial Management, Graduate School Highlights, Information Technology, Management of Information Technology, Professional Development Institute, Uncategorized | No Comments

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According to job and recruiting marketplace Glassdoor, nearly seven of ten people (68%) report that compensation is among the “leading considerations” when choosing where to work. In “25 Highest Paying Jobs in America in 2017,” physicians, software engineers and managers are among the highlighted highest paid jobs. “This report reinforces that high pay continues to be tied to in-demand skills, higher education and working in jobs that are protected from competition or automation. This is why we see several jobs within the technology and healthcare industries,” said Dr. Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s Chief Economist. Therefore, one of the crucial and initial steps to take if looking into such highly paid valued positions, is to obtain the needed education for executing them.

Whether one is looking into changing a career to IT or software architecture, getting a promotion to Software Engineer Manager or starting work in the ever-growing fields of Cybersecurity or Biomedicine, the Graduate School at Hood College is here to for those seeking advancement.

For advancement in jobs mentioned in the Glassdoor research, such as Pharmacy Manager, Information System Manager, Financial Planning and Analysis Manager, Hood’s Graduate School offers degrees in Business (Accounting, MBA, Financial Management), Computer Science (Computer Science, IT, Management of Information Systems and Cybersecurity) and Bioinformatics, Biomedical Science and Geographic Information Systems, all designed to deepen intellectual understanding and to broaden competencies for career advancement. The Graduate School is also providing graduate-level courses for non-degree-seeking individuals who wish to pursue continuing education for career growth or personal interest or to sample a particular program.

Take a first step towards your dream job at the Hood College Graduate School. Contact us at gofurther@hood.edu.

The full list of Glassdoor’s highest paying jobs can be found at http://bit.ly/2EvThqd

Outstanding Student- Information Technology

Posted by | Information Technology | No Comments

i-Xp3pR9p-L Jeff Blake’s time at Hood College has been productive as he has tailored his educational needs to his future assignments within the U.S. Army.  Jeff enjoys tutoring his fellow students and encourages them to excel in areas of weakness.  In addition, Jeff served as an adjunct professor for the Hood ROTC program and volunteered his time on a regular basis as a teacher assistant within the Computer Science Suite.  Jeff’s current assignment is as the Information Integration officer for the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command G6 Communications Division.  His performance in the IT program has been truly exemplary—he has continually been a leader among his peers—in and out of the classroom.