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Spotlight on Software Defined Networking Seminar

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In the modern age of computer networking, not all the major components that comprise the information and telecommunication systems are physical. A variety of major IT companies, such as Facebook and Google, are starting to see the potential in investing in more virtualized network infrastructures. Of course, with this increase in software defined network deployment comes an increasing interest in researching and building courses in IT and CS academia. Enter ITS faculty member, Brandon Saunders.

Professor Saunders, a visiting assistant professor with the school of ITS, has been spearheading efforts to create a graduate level seminar course dedicated to Software Defined Networks (or SDN for short). Currently, he is leading a team of undergraduate students enrolled in an independent study course, grad students and lab technicians to help him build the course infrastructure and topics. His goals are to build a course that is primarily lab based, with prerecorded lectures, making it easy for people in any locality to participate. “Things are still hands-on, just in a virtual sense. In theory, anyone in the world will be able to connect and participate in class” said Saunders.

Interestingly, with the ability to connect and participate in the course from places outside Athens, this class has the potential to appeal to students in many different majors.  “Once we evolve the course, it will become very popular among large organizations within Columbus, Ohio. The new levels of integration for software defined networks will convince people to take the course and revamp their understanding of networking technology” said Saunders.

In addition to developing the SDN seminar, Saunders teaches 3 introductory level courses in the ITS program that help students develop a basic understanding of computer networks and telecom systems: ITS 2010, ITS 2410, and ITS 2300.   But despite the workload of managing three courses, Saunders is excited to also direct the software defined network project.

“Most of our students going into technical jobs are likely to start seeing these virtualization technologies. Seeing them in action and understanding how they fit in a larger IT infrastructure while in school will benefit them in these jobs,” said Saunders.

Spotlight on Nationwide Insurance Hackathon

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From left Nathan Bailey, Jim Gay, and Ryan Kemper (not pictured-Brandon Smith and Matt Christian).

Nathan Bailey BS ‘18, Ryan Kemper BS ‘18, and Brandon Smith recently participated in the annual Nationwide Enterprise Hackathon in Columbus, OH.   All three are Nationwide interns; Nathan Bailey and Ryan Kemper are also members of the ITS School’s Mentorship Program and  4 + 1 Program.

The Nationwide Enterprise Hackathon is a fun and engaging event where associates organize into teams. Each team competes to develop a working prototype in a condensed period of time. Teams are encouraged to creatively tackle relevant business problems.

“This event truly embraces Nationwide’s innovation culture,” says Matt Christian BSC ‘99.  “In the past several years we’ve even seen our business partners present.  They are helping shape the problem statements the teams are formulating solutions around and answer benefits questions when in judging rounds,” he said.

“We’ve also seen infrastructure, risk management, and architecture associates getting involved.  Our IT organization has really embraced it as a great way to collaborate with their peers while producing positive outcomes for Nationwide,” states Christian. Matt Christian is an ITS alum and in IDL-Marketing, Collaboration, and Communication, Infrastructure and Operations at Nationwide.

Christian helped organize infrastructure support for the 17-hour event, bringing AWS and Azure platform support resources, Computer Support, ID Administration, Network, and Code Repository support.  Vendors on site included: Oracle, Box, Mongo DB, Amazon, and Microsoft.

“We provide support for anything the teams need in order to continue the innovation journey these teams are on throughout the course of the event,” says Jim Gay. Jim Gay is the VP of Infrastructure Delivery for Nationwide, and ITS Advisory Board member, who served as a Judge.

Fifty-six teams consisting of Nationwide associates developed ideas that could benefit Nationwide associates (employees), members (customers), or the business.  There is no guidance on what kind of ideas that can be generated.

  • Ryan Kemper was a participant on a team built a SQL query builder and chat bot.
  • Brandon Smith was on the logistics team helping deploy monitors to all the team tables at the Hyatt’s Regency Ballroom as well as with the network setup in the Ballroom (Nationwide provides all wireless connectivity – Hyatt only provides bandwidth).
  • Nathan Bailey was one of the lead engineers that deployed network equipment, wireless controllers, and more than 20 Access Points that supported the 300 participants in the Ballroom.  He also worked with Hyatt’s Network team to deploy bandwidth to the room prior
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