Reflection on a March: The Fight for Science

 

 

The March for Science was a nationwide effort to stop the defunding of science research and development as a way to celebrate Earth Day 2017.

This post was written by Norbert Kubilus, the President and CEO of Coleman University. We will be posting more guest blogs from our staff and faculty throughout the year so please subscribe for more. 

Earth Day 2017 was a wonderful day for a march in San Diego. I joined thousands of scientists and engineers, university professors and K-12 teachers, researchers and laboratory technicians, and people of all ages and from all walks of life in support of scientific research in the United States … and to protest proposed research funding cuts by the current administration. Organizers estimated that 15,000 people were at the San Diego March for Science start at the Civic Center. I would not be surprised if there were over 20,000 of us marching that day in San Diego, joining maybe a million more across the United States.

Hand made signs were the order of the day. Many signs reflected themes seen on signs across the nation. Others were truly local San Diego, which has one of the largest scientific research communities in the United States. One sign really struck me as we walked down Broadway to the Embarcadero. It read: “I have never seen polio … thanks to science.” The young woman carrying was from the Salk Institute and certainly born after polio became a disease of history in the United States. She never experienced a polio scare, and she could not know the memory she triggered for me. The March for Science 2017 quickly became very personal.

In the early 1950s, the polio epidemic in the United States reached a record high of 58,000 new cases in a single year, nearly three times the annual outbreak of the previous decade. Summer polio “scares” were real, resulting in public swimming pool closures and cancelling various community events. Dr. Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine came to market in 1955, and the March of Dimes launched its children’s vaccination campaign.

The memory triggered for me was of my first “march for science” — 62 years ago. On a crisp autumn day in 1955, my elementary school class marched — OK, walked — the half mile or so to the Public Health Office in Verona NJ with our teachers to receive our first polio shots. Thanks to Dr. Salk, his vaccine and the National Polio Immunization Program, the annual number of U.S. polio cases fell to 5,600 by 1957 and less than 200 by 1961.

Paralysis was a lifelong sentence for those who contracted and survived polio. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I first met victims of the polio epidemic, teenagers my own age who were left crippled for life by polio. As a young adult, I also had co-workers worked who were polio survivors. They all walked only with the assistance of heavy braces … and an apparent resentment for their fate.

On Earth Day, I remembered all of them as I was able to walk unencumbered along the San Diego habor. Thank you to young woman from the Salk Institute and her sign for the memory. And thank you Dr. Salk, your University of Pittsburgh research team and the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis for giving us the first effective polio vaccine.

Norbert J. Kubilus, CCP MBCS is President & CEO of Coleman University, a private non-profit teaching university founded in 1963 and located in San Diego, California. Its degree programs prepare graduates for technology-focused careers. visit www.coleman.edu

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/

 

Coleman University Students are Chosen as Semi-finalists in Robotics Development Competition for Mars Exploration!

Chase Thurmond (top right) is leading the ENVI team, along with Coleman students Hao Yu and Anthony Anderson (far left), in their autonomous robot project for Mars exploration. This team will be working on this throughout the spring in order to meet the summer 2017 due date.

Technology is not a static field; it changes daily, hourly, and minute by minute. Technology development isn’t even restricted by Earthly aspirations; developers are now looking to the skies again as their next target. Unmanned ground vehicles have become the latest topic for development and putting these autonomous droids on Mars is no longer just a dream. In early 2017 the Mars City Design Competition put out a call for student teams around the world and across the nation to submit their ideas for an autonomous robot or program that centers on the theme of “transportation” that could be used to help colonize Mars. Applicants had to submit a video explaining their project and what they felt it could contribute to Mars exploration, as well as a breakdown of how they would build their project and what materials they would use. Students from Coleman University, with the help of the expert engineers at ENVI, and lead by student Chase Thurmond, submitted the ENVI design for an autonomous and cooperative robot flock.  The ENVI team, hosted at Coleman University, was chosen as a semi-finalist!! Out of 135 applications, this project and its team of developers were chosen to be one of just 15 teams competing for the chance to see their projects come to life this summer and possibly become part of the race to Mars! Teams from all over the world including France, the UK, and South America are in this competition, vying for the top spot and global recognition as a leading developer in Mars exploration. Students from our Software Development, Cybersecurity, and Graduate Studies Program came together to build the first engineering concept for a cooperative “flock” of unmanned land robots that would essentially become the eyes and hands of astronauts or colonists living and working on Mars. The overall goal of Mars City Design is to promote the development of sustainable and efficient tools for a successful living community not just on Mars, but on future planets yet to be discovered and explored. The semi-finalists chosen for this project will be presenting a teaser of their design and vision at a fundraiser in Los Angeles on May 25th. We at Coleman University want to congratulate the students who took interest in an extracurricular opportunity to put this project into motion, and the dedicated team at ENVI who are mentoring them through this journey. We look forward to seeing the finished product! You can find more information on the other designs, previous winners, and track to competition from their website: https://marscitydesign.com/news.