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NSF cybersecurity grant extended for Penn College

The National Science Foundation recently rewarded Pennsylvania College of Technology’s commitment to tomorrow’s cybersecurity workforce by extending a grant for an additional year.

The grant – “Improving the Pipeline: After-School Model for Preparing Cyber Defense and Information Assurance Professionals” – facilitates interaction between information technology faculty and high school students to introduce rewarding career possibilities in cybersecurity.

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Penn College transfer student stays the course

With determination, and some help from campus resources such as the Academic Success Center and Disability Services at Penn College, Jacqueline M. Westervelt, of Rutherford, New Jersey, earned an associate degree in information technology: technical support emphasis in May and expects to graduate in August with a bachelor’s degree in applied management.

The email contained a stark message for the transfer student. After a year of subpar grades, Pennsylvania College of Technology had to place her on academic probation.

Jacqueline M. Westervelt repeatedly scanned the message, hoping that the words would change. They didn’t.

Her dream of earning an information technology degree – already delayed for two years – was in jeopardy. Self-doubt, fueled by past struggles in school, flooded her mind. Tears flowed as she thought that the people who told her she wasn’t college material were right.

Turns out, they were wrong.

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From living space to makerspace, summer visitors have their hands full

Learning the skills and craftsmanship required of a builder in the newest pre-college offering: Building Construction.

A dozen residential Pre-College Programs and a daytime Creative Art Camp brought hundreds of young women and men to Penn College’s campuses in mid-June, providing hands-on entry to the myriad career opportunities reflected in the institution’s postsecondary curriculum. Keeping campers (and PCToday photographers) busy in recent days were these fun learning opportunities, some of which involved culminating projects: Architecture Odyssey, Autism Spectrum Post-Secondary Interest Experience (ASPIE), Automotive Restoration, Aviation, Building Construction (new this year), Creative Art Camp, Engineering, Future Restaurateurs, Graphic Design Summer Studio, Grow & Design Horticulture, Health Careers, Information Technology and SMART (Science and Math in Real-world Technologies) Girls.

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Alumni Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies Information Technology

Penn College alum’s perseverance pays off

Penn College alumnus Steven P. Fantaske, formerly of State College, works as an Unreal Engine 4 virtual reality developer for the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado. The NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness.

The student’s future revealed a stark reality: life without a college degree. His aborted attempts at college would close the door to a fulfilling information technology career. Potential wouldn’t be realized. Dreams wouldn’t be lived.

But Steven P. Fantaske flipped the reality he seemed destined to experience. Ten years after being placed on academic probation, he earned his second degree at Pennsylvania College of Technology. The result? Fantaske has a rewarding job that tasks him with altering reality. Only this time, the reality is virtual, and the beneficiaries are public safety personnel.

The former State College resident is an Unreal Engine 4 virtual reality developer for the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado. The NIST is a nonregulatory agency of the Department of Commerce that promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness.

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Faculty & Staff Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies Information Technology Students

Penn College IT students present findings at conference

Pennsylvania College of Technology students Allison F. Chapman (left), of Montoursville, and Margot S. Rinehart, of Downingtown, recently discussed their efforts to address the shortage of cybersecurity professionals at the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges Northeast Region Conference in Connecticut. Both students are seeking bachelor’s degrees in information assurance and cybersecurity.

Two Pennsylvania College of Technology information technology students detailed at a recent conference their efforts as part of a National Science Foundation grant to address the critical shortage of cybersecurity professionals.

Allison F. Chapman, of Montoursville, and Margot S. Rinehart, of Downingtown, presented “Capture the Flag as a Testing Platform” at the recent Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges Northeast Region Conference at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut.

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Penn College student chosen for coveted research assignment

Nichalus S. Kibler

A Pennsylvania College of Technology student will spend his summer engaging in a National Science Foundation research program devoted to high performance computing.

Nichalus S. Kibler, of New Columbia, majoring in both game and simulation programming and information assurance and cyber security, is one of 11 students nationwide chosen for the Research Experience for Undergraduate site at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York.

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Dual-enrollment students attend Penn College NOW visit days

Daniel J. Harris, instructor of HVAC technology, talks with a group about classes in air conditioning and refrigeration while showing them a lab.

More than 400 high school students, all enrolled in Penn College classes at their respective high school or career and technology center, visited campus on Friday. A visit to campus is a required part of every course offered through the college’s Penn College NOW dual-enrollment program. The program offers Penn College classes at more than 50 partner secondary-education facilities throughout the state. College Transitions and First Year Initiatives hosts visits for participating schools throughout the year. To ensure that courses offered through Penn College NOW maintain the same rigor as those offered on campus, secondary teachers work with Penn College faculty liaisons who train them to teach the course curriculum, visit each school at least once a year, and grade high school students’ final projects. In addition to hosting Penn College NOW student visits – including a March 19 trip, also documented in this photo gallery – College Transitions and First Year Initiatives conducts frequent group visits for other secondary students, providing college and career exploration, including a campus tour. On April 2, Lycoming Career and Technology Center plans to bring 200 students to campus for sessions with Career Services, the Academic Success Center and more.

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Pre-College Programs to enrich participants’ summer experience

Young women enrolled in SMART Girls, among the wide-ranging roster of pre-college programs at Pennsylvania College of Technology, assemble a robot during last summer’s camp.

Building construction has been added to the abounding schedule of pre-college initiatives offered at Pennsylvania College of Technology, hands-on summer activities that mirror the nationally renowned opportunities afforded postsecondary students.

“Our Pre-College Programs offer living and learning experiences in which students have opportunities to explore unique academic interests in a state-of-the-art environment,” said Deborah B. Wescott, manager of conference and guest relations. “It’s a chance to work and make connections with industry leaders, meet and mingle with your peers, and establish a path that could lead to all sorts of future possibilities.”

The signup deadline is May 31 for the institution’s 12 residential programs and its one day camp.

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Faculty & Staff Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies Information Technology Students

Penn College duo addresses cybersecurity skills shortage

Thanks to strong attendance by students, faculty, staff and alumni, Pennsylvania College of Technology was well-represented at a recent major cybersecurity conference: ShmooCon 2019 in Washington, D.C.

A Pennsylvania College of Technology faculty duo detailed at a recent major cybersecurity conference their pioneering efforts to address the critical shortage of professionals in the field.

Jacob R. Miller and Sandra Gorka, associate professors of computer science, presented “Kinder Garten Security: Teaching the Pre-college Crowd” at ShmooCon 2019 in Washington, D.C.

The annual East Coast hacker convention is devoted to technology impacting information security and discussions regarding the field. The conference is offered by The Shmoo Group, comprised of worldwide security professionals who donate their time and expertise for information security research and development.

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Faculty & Staff Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies Information Technology

Faculty’s cybersecurity outreach featured in Washington Post

Miller (left) and Gorka, during an earlier presentation about their National Science Foundation-funded plan to involve pre-college students in cybersecurity awareness.
Miller (left) and Gorka, during an earlier presentation about their National Science Foundation-funded plan to involve pre-college students in cybersecurity awareness.

An effort by two members of Penn College’s information technology faculty to extend cybersecurity education to high school students – and younger – is featured in Jan. 11 editions of The Washington Post. Jacob R. Miller and Sandra Gorka, associate professors of computer science, will attend the ShmooCon hacker convention in the nation’s capital and offer a Jan. 18 presentation about a dual-enrollment program to interest pre-college students in cybersecurity careers. “If you go into a first- or second-grade class and ask, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ it’s doubtful anyone would say information security analyst,” Miller told The Post’s Joseph Marks. “But we want to raise the profile so when they’re thinking of doctors, nurses and firefighters, they’ll also think of IT pros and security in IT. That’s the holy grail of where we want to see this project go.” The college offers four IT baccalaureate degrees: software development and information management, information assurance and cyber security, information technology: network specialist concentration, and game and simulation programming. Students may also seek an associate degree in information technology: technical support technology emphasis.

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Students crack ‘code,’ open window onto IT careers

Students from South Williamsport Junior/Senior High School use a “Tower of Hanoi” to learn the foundations of computational thinking – which requires no computer.
Students from South Williamsport Junior/Senior High School use a “Tower of Hanoi” to learn the foundations of computational thinking – which requires no computer.
High school students draw paths for their Ozobots.
High school students draw paths for their Ozobots.
Alicia McNett, instructor of computer information technology, offers encouragement to a group of students from Milton High School.
Alicia McNett, instructor of computer information technology, offers encouragement to a group of students from Milton High School.
Spyke M. Krepshaw, instructor of web and interactive media, confers with students from South Williamsport.
Spyke M. Krepshaw, instructor of web and interactive media, confers with students from South Williamsport.
A high-schooler draws multicolor paths to direct her color-sensing Ozobot.
A high-schooler draws multicolor paths to direct her color-sensing Ozobot.

Penn College took part in a worldwide movement on Monday as host of an Hour of Code event for students from five high schools. A collaborative effort between the college’s School of Business & Hospitality and School of Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies, the event provided lessons in coding without technology and programming Ozobots, led by faculty members Anita R. Wood, associate professor of computer information technology; Spyke M. Krepshaw, instructor of web and interactive media; and Alicia McNett, instructor of computer information technology, as well as a campus tour. Wood emphasized to students that computer programmers are not necessarily smarter than others, but they are persistent in trying to solve puzzles and problems. The Hour of Code movement started as a one-hour introduction to computer science designed to demystify “code,” to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. Most events take place during or near Computer Science Education Week. The week is held annually to recognize the birthday of computing pioneer Adm. Grace Murray Hopper on Dec. 9, 1906. More than 219,000 events were registered in more than 180 countries in 2018. Schools participating at the Penn College event were Commonwealth Charter Academy, Hughesville High School, Milton High School, South Williamsport Junior/Senior High School and York County School of Technology.

Faculty & Staff Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies Information Technology

Penn College faculty present findings at IT conference

Jacob R. Miller and Sandra Gorka, associate professors of computer science at Pennsylvania College of Technology, reported on the college’s implementation of a National Science Foundation grant at the 19th Annual Conference on Information Technology Education in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Pennsylvania College of Technology faculty shared their experiences implementing a National Science Foundation grant at the 19th Annual Conference on Information Technology Education in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Jacob R. Miller and Sandra Gorka, associate professors of computer science, presented a “lightning talk” and poster session on an NSF-funded grant aiming to extend the cybersecurity student pipeline to high schools.

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High school students celebrate STEM Day at Penn College

Students from Columbia-Montour Area Vocational-Technical School program paths for small robots called Ozobots using colored markers – a way to code without a computer. The activity was one of several that high school students explored at Pennsylvania College of Technology on Nov. 8 as part of a National STEM Day celebration.

To celebrate National STEM Day, Pennsylvania College of Technology welcomed nearly 100 high school students to campus on Nov. 8.

“STEM” is short for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“In an ever-changing, increasingly complex world, it’s more important than ever that our nation’s youth are prepared to bring knowledge and skills to solve problems, make sense of information, and know how to gather and evaluate evidence to make decisions,” says the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation & Improvement. “These are the kinds of skills that students develop in science, technology, engineering and math.”

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Penn College student updates iconic Maya calendar converter

For his senior project at Pennsylvania College of Technology, Ethan M. Yoder, a software development and information management student from Denver, Lancaster County, is updating an iconic Maya calendar converter program.

Archaeologists traversing the ruins and rainforests of Mexico and Central America to unearth clues about the Maya culture have an ally more than 3,000 miles away at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

And he doesn’t even own a shovel.

From the comfort of a campus computer lab, Ethan M. Yoder digs deeply into his expertise to modernize a valuable tool that helps researchers assign historical context to discoveries. The software development and information management student is updating the iconic “bars and dots” Maya calendar converter for his senior project.

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Faculty & Staff Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies Information Technology Students

Penn College IT students participate in major conference

Five information technology students from Pennsylvania College of Technology attended the recent COMMON Fall Conference & Expo in Pittsburgh. COMMON is the world’s largest association of IBM and IBM-compatible information technology users. From left are Jacob A. Bamonte, of Milton; Mike D. Moran, of Williamsport; Grant W. Hile, of Dillsburg; Ekaterina A. Molostvova, of Pottsville; and Nichalus S. Kibler, of New Columbia.

Five Pennsylvania College of Technology information technology students enhanced their education and future career prospects by attending the recent COMMON Fall Conference & Expo in Pittsburgh.

The students participated in sessions covering a variety of IT topics, networked with industry professionals and obtained COMMON certification. COMMON is the world’s largest association of IBM and IBM-compatible information technology users.

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