Faculty Spotlight: Thomas Byrne (Cybersecurity Program)

Part of what makes Coleman University so unique to San Diego is the incredible faculty that we have on our campus. Technology and its development are not pastimes for our faculty; their careers and passions are built around it. We sat down with one of our Cybersecurity instructors, Mr. Thomas Byrne, to talk about his passion for technology and teaching. Hopefully we can show you something new and exciting about your instructors!

Mr. Byrne (far right) stands with his First Robotics Team at the Central Valley Regional in March of 2016. This photo was taken after the team had secured a spot in a semi-final for the second time that month!

1.So, Mr. Byrne, what drew you to technology and network security?

I grew up with technology and thinking back here are some of my memories: I was literally amazed at my first RED Led watch in the mid 1970’s as well as PONG, which I had hooked up to my TV. I thought to myself “this is the future, these digital readouts.”  Then one day in 1982 my father, who worked at McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach as a Branch Chief Engineer, brought home a Compupro 8/16. It ran CP/M off of 8-inch floppies. One of my favorite games to play on the computer was “Colossal Cave Adventure,” which was a text based adventure game that made you visualize the world you were exploring. I spent a lot of time exploring that cave and one day I got stuck in the cave and actually phoned the author for a game hint in the help file. That was cool, knowing that I could phone the creator of the game. The hint was “Did you get the axe? Did you throw the axe at the Minotaur?” Ooops! I also read a lot when I was a kid, and I eventually came across tech magazines in the electronics store. I read an article and found out that you could punch a hole on the back of that huge floppy to make it double sided; it was so exciting to learn that I could double my storage!  I learned to program in Assembly, which meant manipulating the CPU stack, and I watched my dad write code to track expenses and even predict when airplanes were flying overhead as they landed in LAX. I also received my HAM radio license back when you had to learn Morse code and was communicating with people in Japan and Germany… so that’s how I sort of got hooked on technology, it was my fun time. As for network security, I like to be secure and wanted to learn how to maintain my systems against threats. I saw all the virus activity and did not want to lose my data, so I researched how to stay safe online and really liked understanding how the hackers think and what motivates them. I also learned how vulnerable this technology is, and I wanted to do something about it.

2.How long have you been teaching at Coleman? What inspired you to become a teacher?

I was hired as an Instructor in August of 2010. Before that I was a corporate trainer for Luxottica. I always was someone who could learn and then explain almost any topic and gain insights on it. I really like helping people understand difficult concepts in cybersecurity. This is a huge positive, as a lot of the material can be difficult until you understand it. I try to make it easy to understand, so that my students can remember the material down the road and make use of that knowledge. I try my best to cut through the noise to the essence of what’s really important to know.

3.Do you have a piece of advice or information that you want all of your students to know before they graduate?

There is a job for you, as the world certainly needs trained cybersecurity professionals. It will not be handed to you though. One piece of advice I have is to be very flexible in your careers and gravitate to the areas that interest you. Learn everything you can about security and technology; we live in amazing times and the whole world is going through a digital transformation right now. The world needs your help, so study hard and keep up with all the changes in technology and security. The Internet is a great human resource, so use it; learn how to find good sources of information and never stop learning. It’s very important to learn to interact with others in a positive way and become a good communicator. Be a positive person. Technology is hard for many so help them understand it.

4.Where do you go for the most accurate and up-to-date information on what is happening in technology?

I take advantage of my commute time and listen to podcasts. I’ve got my podcast apps, and I can tie into any podcast out there. I listen to Google, Apple, Microsoft, Security Podcasts, etc. It really comes down to about five companies that are at the head of technology development. It is all interesting to watch and hear, like a big game to see who will come out with the next trend.

5.What are some basic tactics that you would recommend to the public, who may not be fully aware of online cyber risks?

First of all, don’t believe in total privacy online. If you’re on the Internet regularly, you are not doing it privately. If you’re using the Internet you’re going to be in some database somewhere. In regard to keeping your own computers and other devices secure, try not to click on links that you don’t recognize, use two-factor authentication whenever possible, have a password manager for your personal emails and other log-ins, keep up with the news, and don’t go to websites that you can’t verify. Most importantly, don’t allow any action on your devices that you do not personally approve. So if an email comes up with a link that you do not know, reverse it, call the company directly and ask if they contacted you. You need to initiate the connection instead of assuming a provided link is good.

6.What are you involved in outside of the classroom that involves technology development?

Well, I am a mentor for First Robotics. My son wanted to start a robotics club at his high school with two friends, after seeing that other schools around the city, such as Hi Tech High had them. They started a robotics team for Mission Hills High School in San Marcos. I met with them and let them know that I wanted to help out, so I met all the parents of the other students and we worked together to start a robotics team. It’s a lot of work! You have to form the team, and it costs about $4000 to compete in these competitions, so that takes a lot of fundraising. You’re given parameters like the weight of the robots, which has to be 120 pounds, and the cost, which has to be less than $4000, and so on. So you need to get sponsors. We got started in the robotics competitions in San Diego four years ago, and our first project was a defensive robot which was required to have the ability for aerial assist. In that first competition we placed 23rd out of 60 teams, which was pretty high for a rookie team, considering that some of the other teams had been doing this for at least ten years. From there we ended up going to St. Louis to compete, because we won Rookie All Star; we were up against teams from across the nation, but there are also about 30 countries that do this every year as well. Right now there are about 6,000 teams globally that are a part of this competition. We were up against the best and that motivated us to come back even better the next time. So in the following years we have been semi-finalists in both the national and international competitions. This year we were semi-final and quarter-finalists. There are a lot of scholarships attached to this, so students can get money from Boeing and other companies who are looking for engineers to sponsor. Our team is so successful because we have so many mentors who specialize in every aspect of building and implementing.

7.What is an up and coming technology or technology trend that you are really excited about?

Well people like to say that my head is in the clouds, because I am so invested in cloud computing! This is the next paradigm shift in major technology. A cloud service run by major corporations like Google and Microsoft provides the advantage of a powerful storage facility, with massive processing power, and servers that can shift their computing power to adapt to any situation. In regards to hacking, people are going to start seeing the value of the cloud, because it offers more security at less expense, and it is consistently updated. The ability to share and store information will connect the world and give everyone access to technology.

 

We want to thank Mr. Byrne for taking the time to tell us about himself and his passion for technology. Keeping students motivated and engaged is a full-time job and there is a lot more beneath the surface here than you might think. Join us again next month for another spotlight on our incredible faculty at Coleman University! If you would like to know more about First Robotics and the team that Mr. Byrne is mentoring follow the links below.

https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc

https://www.facebook.com/team5137/

 

Faculty Spotlight: Jonathan Rodley

Faculty Spotlight: Jonathan Rodley

Faculty Spotlight: Jonathan Rodley

Jonathan Rodley is a part-time adjunct instructor at Coleman where he teaches English Composition and Creative Writing at Coleman University. Rodley says that creative writing is a way of life for him and he wants to share this passion with his students, whom he greatly admires.

“It takes a certain caliber of person who can work full-time during the day and come to class in the evening, fully prepared,” Rodley said. “I appreciate the experiences that Coleman students bring to the classroom.”

When he is not teaching, Rodley participates in poetry readings, book making, and attends conferences in writing and pedagogy. His other pursuits include spear fishing, surfing, and working as an ocean lifeguard for the City of San Diego during the summer. He served as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army from 2010 to 2014, spending time in both Georgia and Korea. As a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, he is involved in the Psychological Operations Company, or PSYOP.

In the past, Rodley worked as a freelance reporter for the former North County Times, and a tutor/mentor for the federally funded Upward Bound program. He is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. His combined experiences make him a valuable contributor to the Coleman faculty team.

Faculty Spotlight: William Reid

Faculty Spotlight: William Reid

Faculty Spotlight: William Reid

Bill Reid has been a part of the Coleman University community for four years. He is Program Director of the Colleges of Cybersecurity and Software Development.

Reid gained his love for teaching while in the military as an instructor in Advanced Electronics. Upon retiring from the U.S. Navy after almost 25 years, he spent thirteen years as lead contractor for mission planning support and information assurance at Naval Special Warfare Command, Coronado.

Reid is a certified Information Security Manager (CSM – 2007) and is known for his expertise in cybersecurity, software engineering, project management, and program management. He was a panel speaker at San Diego’s Cyberfest2015 and serves on the Board of Directors of the Information Systems Audits and Controls Association (ISACA – 2007). Reid is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM – 2011).

Faculty Spotlight: Randall Cornish

Randall Cornish

Randall Cornish

Randall Cornish is an instructor in the College of Graphic Design at Coleman University. He teaches Graphic Design Principles, Layout and Typography.

Mr. Cornish has worked professionally in the field of graphic design since 1976. He is an award-winning educator who has been teaching graphic design part-time since 1998. He is a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and an Adobe Certified Expert.

In 2016, he received an Award of Distinction (http://tinyurl.com/j5wfanr) for logo design from the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts in New York City. In 2008, he received an American Graphic Design Award for poster design from Graphic Design USA magazine. Mr. Cornish is an honors and holds a degree in Visual Arts and Communications.

“As an educator, my dream is to encourage and inspire students to pursue excellence and unleash the power of their imagination,” says Mr. Cornish.

Faculty Spotlight: Leticia Rabor

Employee Spotlight: Leticia Rabor

Faculty Spotlight: Leticia Rabor

Leticia worked as a professional Software and Systems Engineer in the Defense and Aerospace industries for over 13 years such as BAE Systems National Solutions, Lockheed Martin, and Science Application International Corporation (SAIC). Over the years, she has designed, implemented, and tested various image formation subsystem components for ground system development. She has done full object-oriented designs in C/C++ and Java, as well as developing test procedures with inter-process and multiple process communication. Leticia has drawn up and continues to develop some Mobile apps that are currently in the Google Play Store and Amazon Marketplace.

She has been working for Coleman since 2012 and has produced more than half of the courses within the Software Development Department. At Coleman, she teaches Programming Concept and Logic, Object-Oriented Programming, Mobile Development, Systems Design and Implementation, Software Testing, and Client-Side Scripting. She is currently developing a Coleman University mobile app that will provide access to its academic student services including course registration, financial aid, career services, and academics. She is also the faculty advocate for the Software Development Club. She currently is proposing a Software Code Jam that will allow students to imagine, code, and learn together in a team-based environment during a 48-hour development phase.

Leticia also conducts yearly external one hour workshops in mobile development and JavaScript/JQuery including the Geek Girls Tech Conference of San Diego, California. She also participated as one of the panel experts for “The future of mobile development” topic in June 2015 which was videotaped and published on Geek Girl TV.

Dr. Rasha Roshdy Is The New Director of Research Programs

Dr. RoshdyDr. Rasha Roshdy has joined Coleman University as the Director of Research Programs.

In her new capacity, Dr. Roshdy will coordinate and conduct research activities for the University, manage the Institutional Research Board (IRB), and help develop our ability to receive and manage grants.  Previously a part-time instructor in Graduate Studies, she will now be a member of our full-time faculty.

Dr. Roshdy started her career as a French language instructor. She held the position of Assistant Professor for seven years at Kansas State University and the University of Arizona. In her 11 years working for the federal government, she has held several positions: teacher trainer, curriculum developer and academic coordinator. In her last government position, she became the Academic Dean of the Foreign Language Program for Naval Special Warfare. This program won an award for excellence for two consecutive years under her leadership.

In 2014 she created Maven Connections Consulting and focused her career on research, including work with higher educational institutions from Saudi Arabia. She was named a research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Culture and Language at Norwich University in Vermont and was nominated as a mentor last summer by MiddCore, the leadership and innovation summer program of Middlebury College.

Dr. Roshdy obtained her doctorate in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University, her Master of Arts degree in Education and French from Kansas State University, and a higher diploma from The Sorbonne in Paris.  She worked as a journalist in Egypt, her native country, and continues to write for several Arabic magazines and her own blog on Facebook, which has more than 37,000 followers.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Ghassan “Gus” Hanna

emp_spotlight_gus_hannaI have four years of teaching experience and another 26 years of high tech industry experience managing hardware and software system design groups. I am an avid reader and enjoy researching new, emerging technologies in electronic systems as well as IT database design.

I have published three papers addressing the factors impacting decisions made by management of multinational corporations when investing abroad. I am also on the editorial boards of five academic journals where I review the quality of papers submitted for publications by authors from around the world.

My formal academic education includes a (2013) PhD in Business Administration from Northcentral University – Prescott Valley, AZ, an (1991) MBA from University of Redlands -Redlands, CA, and an (1986) MS in Electrical Engineering from University of Arizona – Tucson, AZ.

Dr. Ghassan “Gus” Hanna, Adjunct Faculty, College of Graduate Studies.

Virtual Reality Comes to Coleman, Thanks to Mr. Jeep & Harvard University

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Jeep from Valve during a January event which Coleman University hosted. Valve has teamed up with HTC to develop a VR headset system which can be used for both development and consumer use. Mr. Jeep brought with him a prototype of the HTC Vive which the participants of the IGDA Game Jam event could use for development.

After the event I sent Mr. Jeep a courtesy email thanking him for his contribution to the event and inquired further how Coleman University could benefit from a development device like the HTC Vive. Without hesitation, Mr. Jeep replied and offered to send me an HTC Vive VR system which I could incorporate into the curriculum. This was a generous offer seeing how the HTC Vive retail for $800 per unit.

With the contribution of the HTC Vive, I was then encouraged to contact LayoutVR which is located at Harvard University, who in February, was given a grant to develop curriculum for VR development in the Unreal Engine. Teaming up with LayoutVR, we redeveloped the curriculum for DSN353 Level Design II to include VR development, with this new partnership I took the responsibility to convert their VR curriculum which was catering the Oculus Rift and redesign the curriculum to work with the HTC Vive. Once this research project is complete, I will then share my finding and redevelopment with LayoutVR, Stanford University, and Epic Games. The major outcome to sharing the research is to be considered for a grant which Epic Games gives out twice a year.

Travis Vasquez is an instructor in the Game Programming Development & Design program at Coleman University.