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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.

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 11 Nov 2016

Dear Fellow Veterans,

            My brothers and sisters in arms: I am writing today on behalf of Capitol Technology University to celebrate your service and recognize your sacrifices to our great nation. All of us – active duty, reservist, and retired – have given so much to our country. We have prepared for, fought, and defeated our nation’s foes in "every clime and place" around the globe. And, as you know, our battles are not over; we are still fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq on this very day.

            Each year on Veterans Day, I know many of us become uneasy. I am no different. My thoughts shift back to difficult battles, to ugly places and horrific events – things I can never forget. I can easily begin to mourn my fellow Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and "Coasties" who did not come home alive. I can also become irritated or angry at those who just do not understand.

            Today, however, I ask each of you to pause for a moment to recall what Veterans Day means, what it is supposed to mean, and why we are here – standing not only for ourselves, but also for our buddies who are now inside the Pearly Gates. Veterans Day is a time for our nation, and for each of us, to celebrate our time in uniform. It is a day when we are called to proudly remember the good times without diminishing the bad.

            History reminds us that Veterans Day used to be called Armistice Day prior to 1954 in  the United States. It is the day that marks the anniversary of the end of major hostilities in World War I. The official time on this day is when the clock strikes at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. In 1918, the Armistice with Germany went into effect and the shooting stopped. It was then, and continues to be now, a time and a day to celebrate.

            Those of us who have seen combat know that war is hell on earth – a place where we have literally walked through the Valley of Death, seen the face of evil, and survived. On this Veterans Day, I ask each of you to take a few moments to think about why all of us were chosen to survive. In my humble opinion, there are three primary reasons. I believe we are here to have each other’s backs and support each other. I feel we were selected to bear witness. And, last, but definitely not least, I believe we were chosen to celebrate our military traditions, esprit de corps, and unique bond.

            In closing, I ask you to join our nation today in celebrating the long line of warriors who have served honorably and faithfully. I ask you to extend a hand to our brothers and sisters in arms, both young and old. I also ask you to answer the nation’s call again – this time as a survivor, a witness, and a teacher of all that represents the highest in military honor and distinction.

                           Semper Fidelis,

 

 

 

 

Professor Soren Ashmall
Lieutenant Colonel
United States Marine Corps (Ret.)

Blog

Posted by raherschbach on 3 Nov 2016

It’s the season of giving thanks for all that we have – and a time to raise our awareness of those in need.

Capitol Technology University’s  Puente Library is conducting a Thanksgiving Food Drive to assist Elizabeth House/FISH of Laurel, a local non-profit that works to assist the homeless and working poor. Items provided will go towards Thanksgiving food baskets.

The library is collecting donations through Monday morning, November 7.  Particularly welcome are beans, greens, cranberry sauce, turkey gravy, and bags or boxes of stuffing, according to library staff.

“I feel that the library is a place of community,” said Beth Emmerling, director of library services. “It’s important that we reach beyond Capitol. We have so much to offer here – we’re in school, we’re in a nice, safe place, and we all have something to eat.”

The drive is an opportunity to show the generosity of Capitol and its students, Emmerling said. “We’re doing the best we can to make the community a better place.”

Donations have been coming in all week from students, staff and faculty members. The items will be brought to Elizabeth House on Monday morning, Emmerling said.

FISH of Laurel was founded by Elizabeth “Betty” Conaghli, initially as a food pantry operated out of her home. In 1988, a local property was donated to the organization and named Elizabeth House. Today, volunteers prepare hot meals and bag lunches seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, to serve an average of about 45 people daily.

For more information about the Puente Library food drive, contact Beth Emmerling at Bemmerling@captechu.edu. To learn more about Elizabeth House/FISH of Laurel, visit their website.

Photo: Ranye McLendon (pictured with Beth Emmerling, director of library services) and other library staff are co-ordinating the Puente Library food drive.

 


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