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Spotlight on MITS ’19 Student, Nana Ekow Taylor

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The school of ITS provides a challenging and industry conscious curriculum that produces many talented individuals in the workforce. Reflecting this are the wide range of companies many ITS undergrad and grad students work for upon graduation; examples – Nationwide, Progressive and Huntington. However, one grad student by the name of Nana Ekow Taylor, has received a position at a company like none other, Facebook.

Taylor is a grad student in the ITS program, originating from Accra, Ghana. Before coming to the United States, January 2018, Taylor was a telecommunications and software engineer for various companies. However, despite his success in the industry already, Taylor decided to pursue his master’s degree.

“After working a couple of years in the industry, I realized there was a trend of new developments and I felt that I needed to acquire some new knowledge and skills to remain relevant,” said Taylor. “Having said this, I thought to pursue higher education as a means of achieving this”.

Throughout his graduate experience, Taylor has taken a course load that has supplied him with a wide range of knowledge with industry concepts. Along with this, he has worked with Professor Aruaz on some of his projects as an graduate assistant. All of this knowledge and experience led up to Taylor’s application to Facebook.

“It was pretty straightforward. Once I turned in my application, I got an email from a recruiter and I was given a shot,” said Taylor. “After that, there was a series of 4 interviews, some technical, others personal.”

Upon interviewing, Taylor’s experience with telecommunications, programming and project management was what set him apart from other candidates. This ultimately resulted in his job offer and acceptance.

“It was a pretty exciting day,” said Taylor. “I always wanted work experience in the U.S., but I never expected a company like Facebook. I am very happy for this opportunity”.

Taylor will start his position after the end of Spring semester. He will be relocating to California, where the HQ of Facebook is located.

University Auditor, Bruce Tong, Teaches Spring Compliance Course

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The School of Information and Telecommunication Systems (ITS) offers a diverse curriculum in the field of Information Technology, ranging from computer network security to IT and telecom policy. One area of IT not previously offered by the program (or any other in the university for that matter), is IT compliance. This changed recently when University Senior IT Auditor, Bruce Tong, was hired to teach a compliance class.

Bruce Tong is an OU alumnus, Air Force veteran and current staff member for the University. His professional experience spans several industries with roles such as – programmer, technical consultant, project manager, and his current role as internal auditor.

Tong’s level of expertise impressed the members of the ITS faculty and staff. This led them to approach him for a compliance course.

“As I understand it, a meeting with Doug Bowie about a future audit and security controls apparently made enough of an impression that he mentioned it to his colleagues. Later, I provided a resume, and they approached me about teaching a Compliance course” said Tong.

The result is the first ITS compliance course for both undergrad and grad ITS students. Topics of the course include understanding risk, compliance with industry and government regulations, and controls. However, despite the subject material, this course is not only useful to future consultants and auditors, a number of these topics are relevant to any technology major, including prospective engineers or managers.

“I like the story that comes along with auditing and understanding compliance,” says Tong. “Early in my career, I learned how to put together computers and information systems. Now as an auditor and instructor, I am learning and teaching how to take them apart.”

ITS Compliance is currently a special topics course. No word on whether it will become a full elective in the future. However, stay posted for details on the course’s availability in future semesters.  

Recent Alumna Spotlight – Kimberly Rometo, BSC ’04, MITS ’14

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Recent Alumna Spotlight - Kimberly Rometo, BSC '04, MITS '14

Hometown: Beavercreek, Ohio

Year Graduated: 2004 – Bachelor of Science in Communication, 2014 – Master of Information and Telecommunication Systems

School: J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems and School of Communication Studies

Major: 2004 – Communication Studies & Information and Telecommunication Systems with a Business minor

Current job title and location: Vice President, Chief Information Officer, Miami Dolphins, Miami, Florida

What do you do? I am accountable for all aspects of Information Technology – people, processes and technology. I work to establish close partnerships with all key executives, both front office functions and football operations, to identify and implement technology support and solutions.

What made you come to Ohio University? I came for the Scripps College of Communication programs and the welcoming Athens environment. Were there other places you considered? Yes, Duquesne University and Miami University. Any metros? Yes, Duquesne is located in Pittsburgh. I liked that it was a small campus in an urban area. What made this rural location more attractive? The community felt safe, welcoming and the landscape was beautiful.

How did the Scripps College of Communication equip you with the skills you needed to succeed? The communication studies program helped develop and refine my soft skills and leadership abilities while the information and telecommunication systems program exposed me to the fundamentals of network and system design. I think having a major in both schools provided for a foundation to get me where I am today. Obtaining my Master’s from the J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems in 2014 cemented the technical knowledge and prepared me for larger leadership roles.

What about your experiences here was so memorable? The professors were truly the most memorable. Dr. Anita James gave me my first professional leadership opportunity by appointing me as lead for the class capstone project. Dr. Trevor Roycroft convinced me that I had the skills to succeed in the information technology field. I also consider Dr. Julio Arauz, Philip Campbell, Dr. John Hoag and Dr. Hans Kruse professional mentors to this day.

Tell us about your career path. Through the J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems I earned an internship with AT&T Solutions sponsored by fellow alumni Bryan Ireton. Upon graduation, I was hired by AT&T Business Services and moved to Atlanta. Shortly thereafter, I accepted a position with AmericasMart Atlanta, the country largest gift, home and apparel tradeshow and events facility. For the next 14 years, I would work my way up in the organization until I was appointed CIO. I received a call from a recruiter in late 2018 for the VP, CIO position with the Miami Dolphins. After meeting with a passionate executive leadership team, I knew I had to move to Miami. It’s been an incredible journey and I am thankful to those I have encountered along the way.

What advice do you have for current students? Never miss an opportunity to learn something or meet someone new. You never know where your path may lead.

Interview conducted by Erin Roberts, Director of Alumni Relations for Scripps College of Communication.

Spotlight on the Bobcat Network Innovation Center (BNIC)

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Created in 2013, BNIC, or the Bobcat Network Innovation Center, is an organization within the School of Info and Telecom Systems that provides students hands on experience with valuable industry tools and practices. This experience comes in the form of 2 sets of labs that can be accessed via Google Drive. The labs cover the concepts of VMWare and Active Directory, concepts that are important to industry professionals.

“BNIC was designed as a space to cultivate and develop the critical knowledge of important industry technologies. In turn, this has led to a lot of positive feedback from IT Professionals both inside and outside Ohio University,” says Bowie.

Bowie has been a network administrator, primarily for the ITS program, since 1997. His main role is to provide support for the lab environments, whether that be VMWare, Windows Active Directory or IoT. With his impressive knowledge of all things IT, it was not a challenge for Bowie to create some labs and presentations for the ITS students.

“The Dean of the Scripps College of Communication put out a call for a more creative approach to student experiences. I envisioned an environment where students could innovate more rapidly and with room to grow that knowledge. I decided to create labs for students and make special time in the Schoonover 004 lab to explore,” says Bowie.

BNIC has developed over the years into an informal environment where students can come in and deep dive into whatever technology topic they are interested in. This has lead to a number of students bringing their hardware to the organization such as Gaming PC’s, Raspberry Pi’s and even servers.

Not only are students getting involved, but faculty, alums and other staff as well. Brandon Saunders, visiting professor in ITS, is a frequent attendee of BNIC who lends his extensive knowledge of IT and a helping hand. Corey Shafer, OIT Linux administrator, has come to a meeting and demoed competing VM hypervisors. Finally, Craig James, an ITS alum working for Buckeye Rural Electric, comes to nearly all the meetings and talks to students about the active environment that he runs for his company.

“The thing I love most about BNIC is how unpredictable it is. There is something new every time that we meet and it excites me just thinking about it,” says Bowie.

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

Meet ITS Professor, Dr. Andy Snow!!

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ITS is an educational experience that offers a wide variety of industry perspective to students in both its bachelor and masters programs. Most of this perspective is provided by the numerous expert faculty members teaching its courses, including Dr. Andrew Snow.

Dr. Snow is an extremely versatile and talented industry professional, who has experience in a variety of different roles, spanning several areas within IT and Telecommunications. These roles include (but are not limited to): US Army Signal Corps Officer, US Navy Microwave and Optimal Fiber Transmission Engineer, General Manager, Department Director, Vice President and President for a variety of consulting & systems integration firms.

Preceding his expansive industry experience, Snow received both his bachelor’s and master’s in Electrical & Electronics Engineering at Old Dominion University. Then, twenty years later, once he had discovered his passion for telecommunications, he went back to school at the University of Pittsburgh for his PhD in Information Science and Telecommunications.

After receiving his PhD, Snow brought his expansive industry and educational experience to the School of Info and Telecom Systems, at Ohio University. Here he teaches a number of graduate and undergraduate classes which include: Understanding Internet Technology, Lifecycle Management of Information and Telecom Systems, Research Methods, and Strategic Issues in Information and Telecom Systems Technology and Policy. When asked about his passion for teaching ITS he says, “I like the melding of telecommunication technology, policy and management that is in this program”.

In addition to teaching, Professor Snow likes to conduct outside research and lead a number of IT projects. The subject areas he is currently interested in include network survivability and IT & Telecommunications project management.

With all of this experience in IT and telecommunications, both in the industry and academia, it is clear that Snow has a lot of passion for the field. When asked why he thinks that ITS is important, he has this to say, “IT and Telecommunication networks are the glue that holds this new information economy together”.

Spotlight on ITS Alum Sami DeVille Messerle ’09

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ITS Alum Sami DeVille Messerle ’09

We love hearing from our alums! We asked ITS graduate Sami DeVille Messerle some questions about her time at Ohio University, her current job, and of course, the field of ITS at Ohio U

Hometown: New Philadelphia, OH – now New Orleans, LA

When did you graduate from Ohio University’s McClure School of ITS? Fall 2009

Degree(s) held: B.S. Communication – ITS

Current job? Technical Operations Manager for Mignon Faget, Ltd, a jewelry design house in New Orleans, LA with a small chain of brick and mortar stores and online web store. I am a one person shop, and oversee helpdesk, network administration, database administration, web server management and web design, vendor management, and almost literally anything that plugs into a wall. I love working for a SMB because I get to really flex my skills and pursue kind of any part of the IT world that interests me, from graphic design to PCI compliance.

What skills did you learn in your undergraduate program that you use in your current job? Basic networking and administration concepts, encryption and security best practices, how to source tools and white papers to stay up on the latest technologies, and overall what a career in IT can really mean – it doesn’t have to be a help desk or highly structured office job. The range afforded to me in my current career has a lot to do with the wide variety of information technology concepts and business administration skills that I was exposed to during my time in the ITS program.

Best ITS class taken during undergrad? This is a difficult question. I got a lot out of Phil Campbell and John Hoag’s classes while I was there, as far as a baseline in IT knowledge goes. Phyllis Bernt’s IT Compliance class is still immediately helpful to me when navigating legal stuff in my current job. Andy Snow’s project management class also gave me the tools and confidence to tackle large scale IT projects, one of which I am undertaking right now.

Advice to current undergraduate ITS students? Take advantage of the networking, clubs and the programs available for certifications now. I always disregarded advice like this while I was a student, but if I could have a do-over for the extracurricular part of my college education I would do it.

What would you say to potential students looking at the McClure School of Information and Telecommunications? I would say go for it – the program vastly expanded my skill set and the way that I learn new skills and made me immediately hire-able, which is not always the norm when choosing a major.

Favorite thing about Ohio University/Athens? I miss the food and drinks! Hanging out at Jackie O’s, Cheese Stix and the Roadside at Lucky’s, Thai wings with blue cheese from Red Brick, fried chicken from Miller’s…these are the things I daydream about when I’m missing Athens.

Meet ITS Professor, Dr. Trevor Roycroft

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Professor Trevor Roycroft, PhD

ITS faculty member Trevor Roycroft combines rigorous academic training with real-world experience: he has worked in the IT industry, and is a consultant who explores emerging technical and policy issues in the field.

After graduating from the University of California, Davis, with both a Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in Economics, he went on to deal with telecom related economic policies for a state agency in Indiana, before coming to OU in 1994.
He was pleased to find out there was a program dedicated to telecommunications at Ohio University. “It wasn’t something I was expecting to find, programs that offered degrees focused on the telecommunications industry were not common, especially at the undergraduate level,” states Roycroft.

From 1994 to 2004 and from 2013 to present, Roycroft has been teaching courses in the ITS major. These courses have included both undergrad and grad level telecom policy and IT strategy courses, introductory ITS classes, and privacy in the Internet age. “I really liked the subject of telecommunications and always wanted to become a college professor, so being able to teach at OU was, and is, a great opportunity for me,” says Roycroft.

In addition to teaching, Roycroft is involved in consulting for telecommunication system projects and numerous scenarios relating to U.S. regulations on IT and telecommunication related issues. Most recently, he has been researching and working in FCC proceeding on issues with Net Neutrality and broadband adoption.

“I’m not just this ivory tower kind of person who doesn’t have any connection to the real world, but rather I know what’s going on.” Roycroft says. “I’ve been involved with literally every major telecommunications issue in the last 28 years in one way or another and this experience feeds right into the classroom.”

Professor Roycroft is very excited to be able to share his passion for ITS: “I think ITS is a great major and I certainly encourage students to consider what we offer.”

Meet ITS Visiting Professor, Brandon Saunders!

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Visiting Professor Brandon Saunders

Saunders has taught the class “Internet Engineering” at Ohio University for three semesters over the past three years. He is now a visiting professor for the McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems. Within that position, he teaches “Intro to Information and Telecommunications”, “Internet Engineering”, and co-teaches a class on IPv6 deployments.

By internet standards, IPv6 is a new technology. The original internet was based on a technology called IPv4. IPv6 is a new version, but the change is no easy task. “You’re basically recreating the internet while it’s in motion,” Saunders said. The class talks about the complexities of adding the IPv6 function to an existing network.

Students who take the internet engineering class will have an advanced understanding of the technologies needed to deploy computer networks for small and medium businesses, as well as small internet service providers. After completion of the class, students will have the basic knowledge to be able to learn the remaining skills to work in any portion of the internet.

Before teaching, Saunders was an entrepreneur focused mostly in software developments. Prior to that, he worked for Ohio University as a network engineer where he deployed much of the university’s network infrastructure.

Saunders has always had an interest in computers and computer networking. “Getting a broad section of things working together to do interesting tasks is always what I’ve done,” Saunders said. He wants to help students pick up the skills and traits needed to be successful in the field of ITS.

“A lot of people have the viewpoint that the internet just works, it all just happens, it’s magic, or it’s a great big box that things fit into. It’s not. To make the internet operate correctly requires people with a very broad set of skills,” Saunders said. This is true more so today than ever before. Saunders believes ITS focuses on people having a broad set of knowledge that can be applied to solving problems required to running the internet.

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