Meet NKU's Cyber Defense Team


 
By NKU Magazine Staff | Photography by Yi Hu | Published April 30, 2019
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Nathanael Long

Senior

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Nathanael Long

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Major(s): Computer Information Technology (Networking and Security)
Minor(s): Information Security, Information Systems

What is the best thing about NKU?

The academics.

What advice would you give a first-year student? 

Choose a major within the first year. Make sure it is something you can learn to love and stick to it.

What’s your favorite class?

CIT 247: Networking Fundamentals with Scott Cunningham.

What is your favorite way to decompress?

7-zip.

Where’s your favorite spot on campus? What makes that spot so special?

Who’s your favorite professor (or staff member)?

Scott Cunningham/James Walden.

Where’s the best place to study?

My dorm room.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?

Playing video games/hanging out with friends/both.

How do you stay focused?

Listen to music as well as treat my classwork like I would a career.

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Justin Flynn

Senior

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Justin Flynn

Hometown: Lexington
Major(s): Computer Science
Minor(s): Computer Information Technology

Why did you choose NKU? What kept you here?

NKU has a great CS and CIT program. I decided long ago that this is where I wanted to attend college. NKU is also the first place I took a programming class around 12 years ago.

What is the best thing about NKU?

Our informatics programs. The CS and CIT departments have some great professors. There are also a lot of club and job opportunities on campus for CS and CIT students to get hands-on experience.

What advice would you give a first-year student? 

Find a solid friend group that you can rely on.

What’s your favorite class? Why?

Theory of Computation. One of the few classes that forced me to think.

What has been your most challenging academic experience so far? Why?

Competing with the team has been a challenge. Competitions are intense. Saturday trainings are even more so. However, our trainings help keep us relaxed during the ridiculous situations the competitions put us through.

What’s a favorite NKU memory you’ll never forget?

Competing with the cyber defense team.

Where’s your favorite spot on campus? 

The cave.

Who’s your favorite professor (or staff member)? 

Richard Fox, Gary Newell, or Scot Cunningham. Depends on the day, but my favorite is always one of these three. Lex Pulos gets an honorary mention for his board game design class.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?

Playing or developing video/tabletop games.

What is your greatest passion?

Developing games. Few things I’ve enjoyed more than playing a game I made with friends.

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Ben Pohlabeln

Senior

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Ben Pohlabeln

Hometown: Edgewood, Kentucky
Major(s): Computer Information Technology
Minor(s): Information Security, Information Systems

Tell me about life pre-NKU. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in northern Kentucky and have lived here my whole life. 

What has been your most challenging academic experience so far?

CIT 247: Netwokring Fundamentals was the hardest class I have taken. It introduced a whole new concept to me, and I was not ready for it.

What advice would you give a first-year student? 

Read the syllabus.

What’s your favorite class?

CIT 447: Network Design/Troubleshooting.

What is your favorite way to decompress?

Playing video games with friends.

Where’s your favorite spot on campus?

Griffin Hall.

Who’s your favorite professor (or staff member)? 

Scott Cunningham.

Where’s the best place to study?

The cave.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?

Rock climbing or playing video games.

How do you stay focused?

Listen to music.

What is your greatest passion?

IT or rock climbing.

What does getting your degree mean to you?

It’s the start of a new chapter in my life.

What are a few things every NKU student should do here before he or she graduates?

Go to a basketball game!

Tell me anything else about yourself and/or NKU that you want folks to know.

It feels bittersweet to leave.

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Noah Fields

Junior

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Noah Fields

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Major(s): Computer Science, Computer Information Technology

Can you tell me a little about what you’re studying?

Currently, I am teaching myself how to create Neural Networks. Then I am also learning how to create be a better linux administrator. I spend most of my time learning random things and playing with different languages.

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think about NKU?

Cooperative.

What advice would you give a first-year student at NKU? 

Don't feel intimidated. We all start somewhere. You just need to power through even though topics may seem hard. If you have a passion for your field, then you will go far.

What’s your favorite class?

Operating Systems CSC 460.

What’s a favorite NKU memory you’ll never forget?

When I went to Global Hacks with the ACM, spent 36 hours developing a website and then we got second place.

Where’s the best place to study?

Conference rooms!

How do you stay focused?

Finding a nice quiet place and surrounding myself with people who have similar interests as me. Find others who are passionate about what they do and work together to succeed.

What is your greatest passion?

Learning and promoting the spread of knowledge.

What kind of job would you like to have after you graduate?

My ideal job after I graduate is some type of software development position that has a security focus. I honestly wish I could work as both a developer and a security specialist for a large company.

What does getting your degree mean to you?

Getting my degree has been everything I have been working toward for the last 18 years. It validates me; all my efforts will finally pay off. But I don’t think my education stops there. It is my job to remain up-to-date on security flaws as well as new anything in the development world.

What are a few things every NKU student should do here before he or she graduates?

Have fun! Don’t let yourself get stressed out.

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Aluor Nyamor

Junior

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Aluor Nyamor

Hometown: Wyoming, Ohio
Major(s): Computer Information Technology (Cybersecurity)
Minor(s): Computer Science, Information Security

Why did you choose NKU? What kept you here?

I was told the cybersecurity program at NKU was great by a mentor. I was close to finishing my associate degree, and I really wanted to learn more about cybersecurity and further my education. I heard about the pathways program that allowed my credits to effortlesly. After I heard about the Cyber Defense Team, I saw a great oppurtunity to train and test myself. When I arrived, I was able to find exactly that. I was more than happy to stay!

Can you tell me a little about what you’re studying?

I passionately study cybersecurity. At NKU, I can focus on learning the fundementals of computer science so I can easily transfer that knowledge to hands-on labs and trainings in cybersecurity operations, implementations in network design and industry best practices when it comes to managing business risk with technology.

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think about NKU?

Opportunity.

What is the best thing about NKU?

The vast amount of support students get with from services like career services and the many diverse student-lead organizations.

What advice would you give a first-year student? 

Get involved!

What’s your favorite class? Why?

CIT 485: Advanced Cybersecurity was by far my favorite class! Students learn how to carry out forensic network investigations, understand how exploits are carried out and how to detect them, and industry professionals visited to talk about their jobs and careers in cybersecurity.

What’s a favorite NKU memory you’ll never forget?

Winning state for CCDC for the first time. It was a nerve-racking experience. 

Where’s your favorite spot on campus?

I love the Cyber Threat Intelligence Lab.

Where’s the best place to study?

I prefer studying in campus library, and it is awesome to spend time working on assignments in the Health Innovation Center.

How do you stay focused?

Long-term planning and goals. I constantly assess the direction I am going and make sure that my actions align with my passions and overall life goals. If I got too caught up the day to day I’d get bogged down and bored, so I focus attentions to forward and work one step at a time.

What are you most looking forward to after graduation?

For me, it has been a long road of getting to college and finding my niche. I am looking forward to developing my skills further and growing into a professional.

What kind of job would you like to have after you graduate?

After I graduate, I would like to become a security analyst and then a security consultant or a security incident response specialist.

What does getting your degree mean to you?

Growth and opportunity.

What are a few things every NKU student should do here before he or she graduates?

Join a club, some club, any club. Go to the career fairs they are great. Have as much fun as possible.

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Justin Widanski

Junior

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Justin Widanski

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Major(s): Computer Information Technology
Minor(s): Information Security

Tell me about life pre-NKU. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the Batavia/Cincinnati area. I went to Amelia High School and was a member of the Business Professionals of America chapter there. I competed and qualified for the National Leadership Conference every year in the Computer Security competition.

What is the best thing about NKU?

The best thing about NKU is the class sizes and interactions with the professors. Being able to have focused attention with smaller class sizes has been a great way for me to really reach out and learn the topics taught in class straight from the professor.

What’s your favorite class?

BIS 382: Principles of Information Security

What is your favorite way to decompress?

I have a lot of side passion projects where I get to enjoy working at my own pace without deadlines or due dates.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?

Working on my own projects, projects for NorseRage, or competitively playing CS:GO.

What are a few things every NKU student should do here before he or she graduates?

Learn how to code—regardless of the major.

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Zeb Gentry

Junior

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Zeb Gentry

Hometown: Henderson, Kentucky
Major(s): Computer Science, Computer Information Technology

Tell me about life pre-NKU. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small town called Henderson, Kentucky, where I spent most of my time playing with computers and learning how to work with them.

Can you tell me a little about what you’re studying?

I’m studying cybersecurity, which is trying to identify possible computer threats and minimize or negate those threats.

What’s your favorite class? Why?

CIT 285: Cybersecurity Fundamentals would be my favorite class, as it is a subject that I am very passionate about and love to study.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?

I like to build computer networks and try to break parts of it and see how everything works together.

What kind of job would you like to have after you graduate?

I would like to work in the CIT/CS field doing anything from network administration, to writing code, to developing new systems.

Zackary McMurtry

Zackary McMurtry

First-Time Freshman/Junior

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Zackary McMurtry

Hometown: Henderson, Kentucky
Major(s): Computer Science, Computer Information Technology

Tell me about life pre-NKU. Where did you grow up?

I was born in Nashville and was raised there until 5th grade. From there, I went to Henderson, Kentucky, which is a small-ish town on the Kentucky/Indiana border.

Can you tell me a little about what you’re studying?

I'm double majoring in CS and CIT, so I am getting an all around overview of computers. I get to delve into the hardware that makes the machine run and how the machines communicate with each other. I also get to see how to properly secure those communications. On the other side, I get to learn how those machines actually run and how the software in general works.

What is the best thing about NKU?

The CS/CIT majors—they are one of the best in Kentucky. This is due to both the excellent curriculum that has been put in place with a combination of outside, private sector company input and the upper level staff (with some feedback from students).

What is your favorite way to decompress?

I really like to just hop into some video games. There are a wide range that I play, and it can be extremely helpful to just get away from school work in general for a while.

What is your favorite way to spend your free time?

Playing games... sort of. I have three monitors, so I will play a game that isn't neccessarily the most attention demanding then also listen to music or watch a video of some sort. It is pretty nice to be able to enjoy the content of both things especially when I have limited free time during the semester.

How do you stay focused?

What is your greatest passion?

Software development. My original plans were to major in CS and minor in CIT. I have been programming in many different forms for about five years. In this time, I have learned a lot both on my own and in classes, and I have been able to take on random solo projects that help me satisfy different curiosities I have with programming.

What kind of job would you like to have after you graduate?

I have no idea. I am going to be doing a software development internship this summer and will likely try to get a network infrastructure/network administration internship for next summer. This will hopefully let me better direct my efforts for where I see myself.

What are a few things every NKU student should do here before he or she graduates?

Further your career in some way. It might seem like graduation is a while off, but any head starts in furthering your education are fantastic. This can be internships, volunteer work, or a club that helps you gain real experience. Whatever it is, companies like to see initiative. They want to see something that differentiate's you from the crowd. You should also take the oppurtunity to network heavily. Some of your professors and staff on campus will have connections to someone in your chosen profession. Take the chance to network while you can to get yourself out there.

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John Arlinghous

John Arlinghaus

Senior

Bradley Hatting

Bradley Hatting

Sophomore


 
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