UNO Alumni NUCIA article

I was just quoted in an article of the Spring 2006 issue of the UNO (University of Nebraska at Omaha) Alumni magazine speaking about the NUCIA program there where I studied Information Assurance under the Computer Science curriculum. Dr. Blaine Burnham has really setup a great program there in Omaha, and I’m very proud to have been a part of it (as one of the first actually)! I coincidentally met Blaine when he first moved to Omaha and was living in the dorms with his wife and us other students. We struck up a conversation in the cafeteria and found we had a similiar interest in computer security… and things just took off from there! Actual interview responses below…


Here are the actual questions and my responses to the interview for the article… there’s a little more details in here.

1. What is your hometown and your age?

Plattsmouth, NE – age 24

2. What did you study at UNO, and what degree/s did you earn?

Bachelors of Science in Computer Science, minor in Management of Information Systems, with a concentration in Internet Technologies and Information Assurance (IA)

3. What are your undergraduate degrees and where did you earn them?

See #2, just starting my graduate studies now: MS in CS at the Naval Postgraduate School

4. How did you come to be a part of NUCIA?

I first met Blaine in the cafeteria of Scott Residence Hall during my freshman year in 2000. We just struck up a conversation, were both new to UNO, and shared a strong interest in computer security! Dr. Burnham was of course the seasoned veteran and I just a new student, but he mentioned that he was going to setup an Information Assurance (IA) program here at UNO like the ones at UC Davis, University of Tulsa and the Naval Postgraduate School among others. Dr. Burnham and I started a small group independent study session that met in Scott Hall during that first year and I took every IA course as it became available — within two short years NUCIA was an NSA Center of Academic Excellence!

5. What makes NUCIA unique?

Its strong presence in the Omaha community, and the community support for it. From area businesses, to the DoD, to the technical and IA communities around Omaha — I think everyone knows who NUCIA is and what smart work it produces.

6. How useful was your work at NUCIA, personally and professionally?

NUCIA has been the catalyst to strenghten my academic understandings and precipitate my professional entrance into the IA world through internships with Lockheed Martin, Sandia National Labs/CA, and the DoD. Personally, I’ve been excited, inspired and thoroughly prepared to pursue my career aspirations with a strong foundation in computer science and IA.

7. What did NUCIA teach you?

That the basic primitives (e.g. a reference monitor) and science of IA was well understood back in the 1970s but we’ve largely chosen to forget it, and now we need to apply it into a world that is radically more complex, full of threats, and highly dependent on the 1s and 0s that we often take for granted everyday.

8. How will you utilize your knowledge and experience as your pursue your professional career?

After I finish my graduate degree, I will work in civil service to strengthen the IA capabilities of our nation and quite possibly make a long career out of it.

9. Is there anything you want to say about Dr. Burnham or any of the other instructors/professors at UNO?

In general (so as not to leave anyone out with limited space), the professors will have you study and work hard — and then you’ll thank them for it! Dr. Burnham and the NUCIA faculty in particular have been an extended-family for me, and they take it personal to see that you succeed.

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