IN THIS ISSUE:
Professions with Purpose
Q&A: Students & Faculty
There’s no shortage of jobs for those seeking a more meaningful career path. Learn how to parlay your STEM experience – and education – into work with a higher purpose.
A library media technician, a chief engineer and a wildlife expert — to name just three STEM changemakers of our very own.
Creating the Future
STEM Space for Women
Introducing the online BS in Computer Science, the “it” program of the moment and the bridge to brilliant careers in software development and a whole lot more.
In this issue: For the 20 SNHU students at the 2016 Grace Hopper Conference, it was all about networking, resume-building and shattering glass ceilings, one woman in computing at a time. Plus: A White House project using data to help girls of color | pg. 29 A Cyber League team at the top of its game | pg. 30 An “Hour of Code” with lessons to last a lifetime | pg. 33
M is for Mathematics and also for MathMagic, an idea Gwen launched years ago to help kids get excited about math.
HOW WILL YOU PAY IT
FORWARD? When I was in the seventh grade, I had a teacher who knew how to make math fun. And I thought, I want to be able to do that for kids some day.
Years later, I launched a company called MathMagic. The basic idea was to get the kids to call and tell me what they needed, not the parents. So if the kids asked for help with math, I would help them. No charge. They got to experience the magic in math. I got to pay it forward. For me, and many others, that’s a big part of the appeal of a career in STEM. It’s not just for the intellectual challenge or the financial rewards. It’s about the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the world. In this issue, we’ll delve into this “doing good” side of STEM. You’ll meet Chrystal Woodcock and Peter Leahy, two SNHU students doing their part to make the world a better place through STEM – and having fun in the process.
Gwen Britton Bio Dr. Gwen Britton is SNHU’s executive director of online STEM programs. She’s also a software engineer, an expert on math education for kids and a painter. In each issue, she’ll ask (and answer) a question about STEM based on the cover story. Got a question about this issue’s main feature? Tweet us @SNHU.
If you want to do work that makes an impact, there are the obvious career paths. Nursing. Social work. Teaching. Psychology. Then there are the not-so-obvious roles. Like data analysts. Geospatial technologists. Environmental scientists.
Lend your STEM superpowers to the world’s causes
While many STEM students set their sights on tech startups, defense technology and software companies – and those fields certainly have opportunities to contribute to society – others feel drawn to use their STEM superpowers for good, working at one of the millions of nonprofit organizations worldwide. There are 1.5 million in the United States alone.1
Good numbers in nonprofits So let’s get some more numbers out of the way. The nonprofit sector accounts for 11.4 million jobs. That’s over 10 percent of all private sector employment.2 In 2012, the most recent data available, double-digit employment was prominent across the Northeast and North, while the South and a handful of states in the West saw less than 8 percent employment.2
Employment growth in nonprofits is also worth a look. From 2003-133: Employment grew 14 percent Wages increased 17 percent The number of charities expanded by 23 percent, better than in businesses and government And working for a nonprofit doesn’t necessarily mean giving up a lucrative salary, either. A 2016 salary survey reported that STEM grads were expected to receive the highest starting salaries, some exceeding $60,000.4 Combine that knowledge with recent data that found there is no statistical gap in compensation – wages plus benefits – for management and professionals at nonprofits and for-profits.5 Of course, nonprofit employees aren’t the only ones working for causes. From government programs to companies that run charitable offshoots, there’s plenty of room to do good on the job.
Socially responsible career paths
(and how to find them)
Sites like WorkForGood.org post careers with purpose, allowing you to apply the skills you’ve developed from a degree program or on-the-job experience to an organization promoting good in the world. Peruse the listings to find STEM opportunities like:
Database management coordinator for a cancer research organization Help desk specialist for a foster-care case management system Data analyst for a social and environmental finance enterprise
These positions aren’t new. They’ve been around a while. But the twists and turns they can take – and the way they revolutionize everyday operations – is exciting. In 2010, over 100,000 people were killed in an earthquake that devastated Haiti. Humanitarian aid organizations rushed to the scene and quickly realized more supplies would be needed. The concept of “mobile giving”
shot to prominence at this time, boosted when the NFL promoted text-todonate numbers during a weekend of playoff games and raked in $500,000 an hour.6 In total, Americans sent $43 million through text-messaging campaigns alone.7 Today, organizations like MobileCause help nonprofits kick off crowdfunding efforts on platforms like mobile, email and social media. Digital software gives users access to create fundraisers and collect info on donors, allowing your organization to target the donors’ interests in the future.
TECHNOLOGY TO THE RESCUE That same natural disaster popularized other technological advances, such as the use of geospatial positioning in tracking Haiti’s population in the aftermath. Not only did Haitians suffer badly with the region’s devastation, soon after they experienced one of the worst outbreaks of cholera in recent times, sickening and killing thousands. Because so many citizens were displaced from the capital region, the disease spread throughout the country.
Enter cell phone data usage from subscriber identity modules (SIMs) within the devices. By tracking SIM card position data, relief assistance organizations were able to locate population movements and provide help where it was needed. A published study concluded that data about population disbursement can be provided in real time, if there are high levels of mobile phone usage.8 The need for the skills required to develop the technology is real. Kimberly Lawrence, an adjunct IT professor at Southern New Hampshire University, understands it well. As an information systems security assessor at Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC), which supports the NASA Langley Research Center, she sees the impact STEM has on our quality of life every day – and knows that more resources are needed.
“The governor has adopted STEM development as his main focus because of the critical need for more cyber experts in this area. This is a trend nationwide. Educating students of the causes and the need will help develop the passion and direct their paths into the STEM-related disciplines.” A devotion to STEM hits close to home for Lawrence. In addition to her work and as a member of (ISC)2, a nonprofit association that focuses on cyber security, she partners with the Safe and Secure Online program to teach children, teens and seniors about internet safety.
understood about geotagging, cyber bullying and what not to share on social media,” she said. “They had many questions, and the presentation opened the door to engage in conversation.” The STEM interest in helping others runs in Lawrence’s family: “My brother is a web business developer,” she said. “His latest undertaking is developing a website to fund and send clean water to Africa. I’m very proud of his efforts.”
“I spoke to a group of 13and 14-year-old girls about a month ago, and I was amazed at how much they
“In Virginia, where I’m from, we currently have 15,000 jobs that we cannot find qualified candidates to fill,” Lawrence said.
MORE PATHS TO GOOD CAUSES Find the good in STEM in places like: Mapping: The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Geospatial Technologies Project takes on human rights issues like secret detention, mass violence and internal displacement. For example, in post-9/11 Afghanistan, thousands of Taliban prisoners were suspected of being killed and buried in mass graves. Eight years later, the project reviewed satellite
imagery that showed these sites had been excavated in 2006. The results led to President Obama ordering a U.S. government review of the incident.9 App development: TechSoup is a nonprofit that partners with companies and volunteers to integrate digital platforms with societal needs. Its Caravan Studios division builds apps that help communities. Like Range, an app that bridges the summertime gap for students who receive free or reduced-cost food during the school year by pointing them toward community organizations for their meals. Or SafeNight, which lets users donate the cost of hotel rooms when domestic violence shelters are full.10
Data services: The United Nations Global Pulse utilizes Big Data for sustainable development and humanitarian action. It recently announced a partnership with Twitter, which gives the initiative access to the social media service’s data to make real-time decisions in areas where people are tweeting about concerns like food costs, healthcare and education quality.11 “STEM-related disciplines allow you to become passionate about your job,” Lawrence said. “If you’re interested in helping the environment, STEM is for you. Do you want to research cancer? STEM is for you. Do you like defending your data from hackers? STEM is for you.”
Learn more about how you can do good in the world with a STEM degree.
And at a nonprofit, giving back and just getting that experience is really good for them.”
GOOD STEMS FROM STEM DEGREES
It’s a win-win situation when a STEM student wants to work for a special cause and, in turn, a nonprofit can hire an employee with an in-demand skill set. Victoria Chartrand ’12, a SNHU Career advisor who assists STEM students and alumni, sees serious value in bringing tech savvy to these types of organizations. “I don’t think enough students look into nonprofits,” she said. “The STEM industry – no matter if you’re going into environmental sciences or math or technology – is absolutely booming right now.
The SNHU Career team helped Eeleen Chua, an MS Data Analytics student from the class of 2017, do just that by positioning her for her current role at The MENTOR Network. As manager of quality analytics for the national service that assists adults and children with catastrophic injuries or illnesses, Chua oversees the presentation and reporting of data to improve strategies across the organization.
“I chose to join The MENTOR Network because I believe in their mission to help people who are in need,” Chua said. “I admire the people who are supporting and helping this population. I want to make sure that my career is a vehicle for me to do good.” Putting her STEM degree toward a cause is a personal choice that’s close to Chua’s heart.
“By looking at and analyzing data, I believe that I can provide reliable insights to leaders, contribute toward their decisions on how to shape their program and use the data to determine a developmental path – to trend, identify patterns and focus on business decisions,” she said. Chua stressed the importance of aligning her STEM skills with an organization that invests in communities – even if she’s “not directly making an impact toward a person’s life.” Not directly making an impact? At The MENTOR Network, the data begs to differ.
“A lot of times, activities and volunteer work are at the bottom of your resume. But because that would be relevant to a nonprofit or other type of organization, I’d want students to highlight that and move it to the top.” – Victoria Chartrand ’12, SNHU Career advisor
Sources: 1 National Center for Charitable Statistics, 2 Bureau of Labor Statistics: The Economics Daily, 2014, on the Internet at Nonprofits Account for 11.4 Million Jobs (viewed February 10, 2017), 3 Chronicle of Philanthropy, 4 National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2016, on the Internet at Salary Survey Executive Summary (viewed February 10, 2017), 5 Bureau of Labor Statistics: Monthly Labor Review, 2016, on the Internet at Nonprofit Pay and Benefits (viewed online February 10, 2017), 7 Pew Research Center, 8 PLOS Medicine, 9 AAAS Geospatial Technologies Project, 10 Caravan Studios, 11 United Nations Global Pulse Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
T is for Technology and for the empowering work Chrystal does to help young minds embrace the possibilites of code.
Chrystal Woodcock, SNHU Student
Chrystal Woodcock is passionate about earning her BS in Information Technologies with a concentration in software development. The fuel for her passion? The desire to create better educational tools for future generations of elementary school students. It’s a goal the California native and library media technician gets closer to every day. We caught up with Chrystal at the 2016 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, where she took part in Open Source Day: Code-a-thon for Humanity and learned how to use open-source software to help those in need.
Q : Why SNHU and why
only university that checked all the boxes – the program I wanted and the flexibility I needed as a full-time working professional.
A : I’ve spent the last 10 years as an elementary school library media technician, fostering a love of reading in children and assisting students and teachers in the use of technology. Based on my experiences, I began looking toward a career in developing educational software. Why SNHU? Because it was the
Q : Was there an underlying
desire to do good with your degree or did that develop as you got deeper into your program?
A : My time in the library has given me a unique opportunity to see the way young children interact with software. I’ve
watched the frustration build in educators as their students struggled until they abandoned the software altogether. I’ve looked on as young children were expected to access learning resources by means of login protocols that were far too developmentally advanced for them. I’ve seen learning time squandered as these children tried to interpret interfaces packed with content they couldn’t even read, let alone type. I know that by combining the right skills and connections with my knowledge and experience,
I can improve educational technology resources for future generations of students.
Q : Can you talk about how
you’ve applied what you’re learning in the classroom to your daily work as a library media technician?
A : In my position as a librarian, I speak with hundreds of girls between the ages of 5 and 11 every week. I’ve already shared so many of my own
exciting SNHU experiences with them, like creating my own computer game in IT-135. The excitement this raised led to girls and boys telling me they wanted to create their own games someday. From there, a tech-savvy teacher and I started with a small fourthgrade coding group that grew into a school-wide Hour of Code event. And that, in turn, grew into a free after-school Robotics Club attended by 50% of third through fifth graders, a third of whom were girls.
Q : On that note, tell us
about your experience at this year’s Grace Hopper conference, both as a woman and as someone seeking to make a difference with your degree.
A : I knew it would be an opportunity to get some experience programming with others, but I had no idea what amazing work the 300 of us would accomplish in a day. I worked with Microsoft and Humanitarian Toolbox on a project called allReady. The allReady project has been developed in conjunction with the Red Cross, which responds to 1,200 disasters a year in the city of Chicago alone. During the winter in poor areas of Chicago, families resort to pretty much anything to stay warm, which can sometimes result in house or apartment fires. The Red Cross is trying to lower the number of incidents the community suffers each year by investing in prevention programs. The web app allReady will be an organizational tool to organize events and volunteers. Our contribution to the project
Chrystal crushing it at the Grace Hopper Conference
came in the form of fixing and debugging issues with the application. Our group was able to fix five bugs by the end of the hackathon. It’s really an incredible feeling to give your time for such a worthy cause and know that the more you practice your own programming skills, the better prepared you’ll be to aid other nonprofits in the future.
Q : So what’s next for you? A : I focused my degree program on software development, because I’m looking toward a career in developing educational software. The work I’ll be able to accomplish by learning new skills, creating personal connections and exploring possibilities in technology could lead to better educations for many, many young people.
E is for Engineering and for Peterâ€™s efforts to help protect fish and birds around the planet.
Peter Leahy, SNHU Student
Peter Leahy is chief engineer aboard the container ship APL China. When he’s not at the helm on the Pacific, Peter is pursuing his online Master of Science in Data Analytics — and his lifelong passion for wildlife conservation. “I probably should have been a marine biologist and not a marine engineer,” he says. Also an avid scuba diver and published underwater photographer, Peter is using his data expertise to track and help protect fish and birds around the world.
Q : You earned your BA
in Mathematics online at SNHU, and now you’re pursuing your online MS in Data Analytics. What inspired you to continue your education?
A : After I finished the undergraduate degree, I wanted to keep going. I was still working aboard a ship for a living, and I knew that SNHU’s online platform worked despite the very slow Internet connection on the ship. Lastly, the explosive amount of data available lately bodes well for this particular graduate degree.
Q : Do you feel your data
analytics education has helped you in your full-time role as a chief engineer?
A : There is great potential for data analysis in the marine engineering field. A good example would be in regards to spare parts usage. Big ships carry a lot of spare parts, and they’re expensive. If we did an in-depth analysis of spare parts usage, we could reduce the amount of parts carried aboard.
Q : You have a lifelong
passion for wildlife. When did you first become involved in conservation efforts?
A : As a child, I enjoyed fishing and identifying different species of birds. Once I learned to
Aside from being a marine engineer, Peter is also an underwater photographer.
scuba dive and identify species of fish underwater, I was hooked. My involvement in wildlife conservation was just a natural progression. I started out collecting fish population data for REEF (Reef Environmental Education Foundation). The basic idea is for recreational scuba divers to record the amount and type of fish they see when making a dive. The organization started about 25 years ago and, to date, has a database with 200,000 completed surveys. I have done more surveys than any other member, a little more than 2,800. I also signed up to submit bird surveys on eBird. I’m most proud of the bird surveys I did in the middle of the ocean while aboard the ship, because there’s not a lot of information on bird sightings in the middle of the ocean. It’s always neat to do things others have not.
The container ship Peter works on, the APL China
Q : How do your data
analytics skills help in your conservation work?
A : My data analytics degree gives me a great foundation to really add value as a volunteer or employee of wildlife conservation organizations. I think of data analytics and statistics as back doors into the scientific fields of ichthyology or ornithology. There are many individuals interested in those fields with a great deal of biological knowledge but not statistical knowledge. Rarely anymore are scientific papers a solo undertaking. I think there are many ichthyologists and ornithologists that would be happy to have a statistician with an MS in Data Analytics on the team.
there, but I did work on Diego Garcia for another reason: to count fish! The U.S. Navy hired a civilian company to do a baseline underwater biological survey of Diego Garcia and the surrounding waters, and I was hired to do the fish counting and underwater photography.
Q : Do you feel your STEM
degree allows you to make a positive impact in the world?
A : The importance of data collection and data analysis cannot be underestimated with regards to wildlife conservation. More often that not, wildlife conservation turns out to be a battle fought on a legislative front. Data collection and data analysis give conservationists the proof they need to fight legislative battles.
a moratorium on fishing for Napoleon Wrasse. With no endless hearings or legislative battle, the Governor decreed that fishing for Napoleon Wrasse on Diego Garcia was prohibited until further notice. It was a proud moment for me.
Due to the remote location of the island, the scuba diving and underwater life was incredible. There is one large species of fish, called Napoleon Wrasse, that inhabit the waters there. This species does not breed until it is very large and at least 20 years of age. At the end of the three-week survey, we had a debriefing where the Island Governor asked the Navy biologist for any immediate recommendations pending the survey results. The biologist recommended
Q : As a conservationist,
what was one of your most impactful experiences?
A : The United States keeps prepositioned cargo ships at Diego Garcia, a remote island in the Indian Ocean. I for one have never worked aboard a ship
S is for Science and Jill’s passion for wildlife, especially the annual migration of monarch butterflies.
Q : Growing up, were you
interested in science? Who encouraged you to pursue your interests?
Jill Nugent is the associate dean of science for Southern New Hampshire University’s online STEM programs. Throughout her career in science and science education, she’s studied wildlife as diverse as invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, equines and canids. We spoke with Jill about the importance of science education, technology and making an impact through citizen science.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to nature and science. Growing up in northern Virginia, I was lucky to be able to explore both on foot and on horseback — the abundant woods, fields, creeks and streams, and critters. Also having Washington, D.C., so close to home allowed for endless hours exploring the most amazing museums, which probably helped to cultivate my curiosity about the natural world. So many teachers through the years nurtured that curiosity — from my preschool teacher who had our class raise a butterfly to middle school teachers who had us look at critters in pond water. In fact, I will always remember a banner in a classroom growing up. It read, “Science is not a spectator sport.” That has always stuck with me and is my mantra today. Science is action. It is a process to engage in, immerse in and experience!
Jill Nugent, SNHU Associate Dean of Science
After college, I was lucky to get a job at a natural science museum and wildlife sanctuary. The museum was located on almost 300 acres of restored native prairie and wetlands. While working there I also concurrently worked on my master’s degree in biology.
Q : When did you decide you
wanted to pursue science professionally?
A : I remember when I was home from college one summer, and I happened upon the book by Jane Goodall, “In the Shadow of Man”, and couldn’t put it down. I read it in one afternoon. That next year, I took an animal behavior course and was hooked. Today, I have a framed, signed picture of Dr. Jane Goodall on my desk — such a treasure! She is such an inspiration.
I was so busy, working full time during the day and doing my master’s at night and on the weekends. But it was also a very exciting time, as I was able to draw connections and apply concepts from work and school — a powerful and effective learning experience I will never forget. My time working at the museum, coupled with my master’s program with truly exemplary faculty, is what started me on my career trajectory in science and science education. Since then I’ve been fortunate to work with great people at multiple universities.
Q : What do you love most
about your role at Southern New Hampshire University?
A : SNHU has dedicated Q : How did your career path
lead you to Southern New Hampshire University?
and passionate faculty and staff, working together in a unified mission to support our students. It is a privilege and honor serving our amazing
students every day. Helping students make their dreams a reality comes with great responsibility. It’s exciting and rewarding to be a part of that.
Q : How are you working
to impact the world or your community with STEM?
A : When I was working at the natural science museum, we engaged the public in citizen science programs such as bird counts, amphibian monitoring and more. Citizen science essentially refers to public participation — people of all ages and backgrounds — engaging in the process of authentic, real-world science. One of the citizen science projects that I’ve been involved in since 1999 is the monitoring of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). In February 2016, I traveled to the butterflies’ overwintering sites in Michoacán, Mexico, and used Skype to connect with students back in the U.S. who were studying the annual migration. With habitat loss, conservation challenges and fragmentation across the migration corridor, citizens play an important part in the conservation of this species and its migration. Opportunities with Monarch
Watch, Journey North and iNaturalist encourage the public’s participating in reporting observation of monarch sightings and tagging of monarchs during fall’s journey south to Mexico. Now through the power of technology and mobile devices serving as “force multipliers” in citizen science data collection and observation reporting, the number and diversity of programs and opportunities is growing rapidly.
Q : What’s the role of
technology in science education today?
that may not have taken place if students were researching or sampling in one geographic area. Global collaboration in science using technology can also serve as a way to tackle and solve real-world challenges facing our natural world in a projectbased learning context. That relates to my doctoral research, as I’ve been investigating locally engaged, globally connected citizen science, where anyone in the world can be involved in local science (for example, the monarch butterfly monitoring). With technology, they can connect and collaborate with others across the globe.
Q : What’s your advice to
students looking to break into or advance within the STEM field?
Be proactive. Look for opportunities that interest you, whether that be a course, volunteer opportunity, SNHUconnect group, professional development session, meeting with our SNHU Career team, or even a conversation with someone in your field. Take action, and that initiative will ultimately lead you on the path that you are called to serve.
A : There are endless possibilities that technology offers for real-world global science collaboration, both asynchronously and synchronously. With online science education, we can have students in diverse geographic areas report on local environmental issues or conditions and share that information and data with the class. It generates broader connections and conversations
Today, technology is everything. We need it to work, and we depend on it for entertainment.
That’s why computer science has become the program to jump into. Southern New Hampshire University’s new online BS in Computer Science prepares graduates for roles like the applications and software developers and computer systems analysts that design the future of our technology.
The timing couldn’t be better to enter the field: A whopping 71 percent of all new jobs in STEM are in computing – yet only 8 percent of STEM grads have earned a computer science degree.1 And the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth to be faster than average, a minimum of 9 to 14 percent.2 The salary’s not too shabby, either: A computer science degree may net you 40 percent
more than the college average.1 The bachelor’s degree also ranks second in terms of starting salaries across disciplines, averaging around $61,000 and just slightly less than that of an engineering degree.3 Cheryl Frederick, associate dean of programs, undergraduate IT and computer science, notes the importance of adding this program to SNHU’s everincreasing STEM options. “Computer science continues to be a popular and fast-growing field,” she said. “The offering of an online bachelor’s degree in computer science creates an online presence in the important ‘E’ in our STEM segment.” She added that the program is a hands-on approach to learning the science.
> Industry tools like Netbeans, Eclipse, OpenGL and Maven > Applied skills in Python, Java and C++ > Environments like Linux, Windows and mobile
READY TO BUILD THE FUTURE?
Computer science contributes in a major way to our workday and our personal lives – and it also pushes good work in the world.
“Databases that store and organize data that could be used to solve a community problem requires a software application to present the information in a form that is usable for nonprofits and volunteers,” Frederick said. “If any computer – including tablets, laptops and smartphones – has an application that supports volunteer or nonprofit work, software was written to create the application.”
“The program is primarily experiential and applied, not theoretical. Students work on real-world problems,” Frederick said. “They’ll leverage technology to support all aspects of the software development life cycle using design and testing.” Graduates of the online computer science program will be exposed to the essentials needed to succeed in modern computing:
“Computer scientists will learn multiple programming languages over the course of their career and be comfortable working in many different domains and industries,” Frederick said. “A computer scientist would be capable of tackling a new programming language quickly and learning how to write code for a new environment.”
As an example, she mentions Doctors Without Borders, which recently launched a smartphone app that helps to connect people in crisis areas with medical assistance. “Computers, smartphones, the Internet and database technology have become embedded in all industrialized countries,” Frederick said. “Mobile, satellite and emerging networking technology are expanding the reach of technology use, even in developing nations.” The field can be rewarding, especially if you work in positions that give back, but it’s also a rigorous one. Frederick has a suggested checklist of what makes a stellar computer scientist. You’re: > Ready to jump into computer programming and math, like calculus and applied linear algebra > A logical thinker > Detail-oriented > A critical thinker with strong problem-solving skills > An excellent communicator and collaborator
Find out more about SNHU’s BS in Computer Science and how you can make an impact on the future.
Sources: 1 Code.org, 2017, on the Internet at Code.org/Promote (viewed online February 10, 2017), 2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, on the Internet at Computer Systems Analysts and Software Developers (viewed online October 18, 2016), 3 National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2016, on the Internet at STEM Grads Projected to Earn Class of 2016’s Highest Average Starting Salaries (viewed online February 10, 2017) Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
WHICH TECH PROGRAM FITS YOUR GOALS? If you know you want to work in computers, but you aren’t sure which field is right for you, take a look at the chart below to help narrow down your choices.
Management Information Systems
See and make sense of code, “talk” to computers through math and programming languages
Create systems that solve business problems through existing operating systems and software
Applies technology or kicks off tech projects, conducts systems analyses
Typically works with
Self or software development team members
Role in technology
Software design, programming languages
A variety of departments
A team, but in a decisionmaking role
Resolving technology issues, maintenance solutions
Strong communication between IT and business
STEM SPACE FOR WOMEN The good news: Women in STEM are gaining traction. The not-so-good news as 2017 kicks into gear: Women still account for just a quarter of the STEM workforce. This space is dedicated to the ladies blazing trails to a brighter future for all women in STEM. In the spotlight this issue: SNHU at the 2016 Grace Hopper Conference and a White House project bent on improving life for girls of color by leveraging the power of data. Plus: Meet the reigning ladies from the 2016 National Cyber League Games.
SNHU staff and students make powerful industry contacts at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing
In October, Southern New Hampshire University selected 20 online IT students to attend the annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. Hosted in Houston, the conference is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists, this year drawing over 15,000 attendees and the nation’s most influential leaders in tech, including U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith and Latanya Sweeney, director and founder of Data Privacy Lab.
For SNHU, the mission of the Grace Hopper Celebration and its co-presenters, the Anita Borg Institute and Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), aligns with the university’s commitment to helping women enter and advance in STEM fields. To leverage all the conference has to offer, SNHU staff spent months beforehand preparing students to take advantage of the event’s career fair — with over 300 organizations looking to hire and support women in technology fields. “One of the highest-rated parts of the conference is that attendees can submit their resume into a database for hiring employers who are
interviewing on-site,” said SNHU Career Advisor Caitlin Glennen. “So this year, my first goal was to prepare our students for the career fair and interviews. My second goal was to connect with employers and make sure they knew we had over 1,500 women in our technical programs who would love to work for them.” To prepare students, Glennen coordinated with the SNHU STEM academic team to host a series of webinars, including a technical interviewing course delivered online for the first time by the
Anita Borg Institute, as well as an online Resume Boot Camp. The two-hour resume webinar covered everything from interviewing etiquette and elevator pitches to strategies for making the most out of a conference the size of the Grace Hopper Celebration. The students then broke into small discussion groups to critique each other’s resumes and receive feedback from SNHU Career staff. “At the end of the resume boot camp, they all had a final product and were able to put that into the resume database,” Glennen said. “Every single attendee who put their resume into the database had an interview at the conference.”
For the students who attended this year’s conference, the hard work that went into preparing for the career fair proved invaluable. SNHU online MS in Data Analytics student Amelia Manni was able to sit down with five employers for onsite interviews during the conference. A fraud risk analyst, Manni said she was looking forward to learning about different companies’ analytics team and meeting professionals in her field. “It was amazing to get a chance to interview with some of these large companies
SNHU online student Clair Todd, right, attended the conference with her mother, Elizabeth Todd, who has worked in the technology field for over 15 years.
that, before starting my master’s program, I could only dream of working for,” Manni said, who was offered a job opportunity at a Fortune 100 company after the conference. “Every company solidified that this was exactly the field I was meant to be in.” For beta tester Tara Lovely, meeting with three hiring employers gave her the confidence she needs to continue pursuing her goal to become an ethical hacker or a cyber threat analyst.
“Every interviewer encouraged me to leave my comfort zone. They wanted to hear the crazy ideas even if they seemed impossible,” said Lovely, who’s pursuing her BS in Computer Information Technology degree with a concentration in Cyber Security. “When I brought up my shortfalls, every recruiter said the same thing: ‘We can teach you anything. You have potential and passion. That can’t be
taught.’ That alone reminded me why I fell in love with this industry.” Graphic designer Erin Tirrell is earning her online MS in Information Technology degree with a concentration in Web Design. At the conference, she interviewed with hiring employers in the UI/UX design field, which led to a job offer from a top California tech company. Tirrell said attending the Grace Hopper Conference gave her a better understanding of how she could make an impact in the world through technology. “I attended sessions in the HCI (Human Computer Interaction) Track and learned a lot about accessibility. We looked at technologies that might not work for those individuals who are blind, deaf or have the use of only one arm,” Tirrell said. “We got an opportunity to brainstorm with women from around the
SNHU online student Jo-Ann Beaubrun was a two-time Grace Hopper conference attendee.
world on how we might change that and how we might impact inclusion efforts, not only for including women in technology, but for everyone.” For Glennen, the conference provided the students with more than just networking and educational opportunities. “For the women in tech, it’s important that they see themselves in the industry. Modeling is incredibly important — to see someone in your position, where you want to be, and to know that it is attainable,” she said. “My favorite part of the conference was watching these women become inspired and grow in their confidence, knowing that they can be successful in these technical fields.”
Every year, young women of color receive more school suspensions than any other demographic group. High suspension rates lead to higher rates of arrest â€“ and a perpetual school-toprison pipeline marked by poverty and other issues that threaten communities nationwide. In 2015, the White House Council for Women and Girls launched a project to improve the odds for women and girls of color, supported by $118 million in public-private funding. To help tackle this growing epidemic, the Council turned to the U.S. Commerce Department and the one key element in solving complex issues: data. That set a series of wheels in motion. With help from the Commerce Data Service (CDS), whose mission is to turn data into actionable information, the Council worked with the CDS to convene the first â€œHackathon for Social Justice and Diversity.â€? The hackathon gave participants the chance to dig into the data, identify trends and explore solutions.
The CDS also created helpgirlsofcolor.org to raise awareness and engage the public in addressing these issues. The website shares valuable data, case studies and resources for schools, students and parents as well as community groups to lobby local policymakers to develop policy and social solutions. It also provides a forum for sharing data that shines a light on the magnitude of the problem. With such goals as fostering economic prosperity, reducing rates of unplanned teen pregnancy and promoting inclusive STEM programs, the project is already closing gaps by using data and evidence-based solutions. In October 2015, it was showcased at a White House Forum on Interrupting the Sexual Abuse to Prison pipeline. For more government agencies doing good with technology, visit the U.S. Digital Service and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
The Southern New Hampshire University CyberSNHUpers wrapped up another strong year competing in the 2016 National Cyber League individual and team games, with team SNHU PENmen scoring ninth in the post-season team competition.
SNHU Cyber League team members gain technical expertise and confidence in 2016 competitions
Cyber League, an online cyber security competition, attracts students from universities across the country, including Penn State, University of Illinois and Excelsior College. Students work both individually and in smaller teams to solve real-world problems under intense time and technical constraints. Through these challenges, students learn and improve skills related to cyber threats, ethical hacking and security breaches — skills that prepare them for high-growth careers in cyber security. For the CyberSNHUpers, last year was noteworthy for another reason: 30 percent of SNHU’s players were female — a sharp contrast to the current job market, where only 11 percent of cyber security professionals are women, according to the National Cyber Security Institute.
What’s more, the No. 9 ranked team in the nation was led by a female team captain, SNHU online student Briana Beyerl.
Preparing for Battle The CyberSNHUpers compete individually in the preseason and regular season games during the fall and again in December’s post-season as part of four smaller teams: SNHU PENmen, Hacks You A Question, Snow Crash and The Puzzle Solvers. However, before the fall season begins, the CyberSNHUpers spend the entire summer participating in an NCL training program and attending weekly webinars. For Hacks You A Question team member Stephanie Ferreira, practice was key this year — but players had to be prepared for anything during competition.
“The more preparation you do before competition, the better prepared you will be, but there are no promises,” said Ferreira, who’s earning her online MS in IT with a concentration in Data Analytics. “It’s kind of like taking survival classes and
then being dropped in the wilderness. You might have a lot of knowledge and some very good tools, but you don’t know what the weather and terrain will throw at you until you get there.” “Once I understood the cutting-edge nature of the technology that was being studied as part of the Cyber League and the handson way we could learn it, I had to be involved,” said Ferreira, a business analyst in the insurance industry who competed for the first time last fall. “I felt very overwhelmed and inadequate at first, but with the help of my coaches and fellow students, I was able to grow my technology repertoire exponentially at a very rapid rate.”
Rising to New Levels In October, Ferreira and her fellow CyberSNHUpers competed with over 2,000 students from around the country in the preseason game. The challenges measured skills in open source intelligence, network traffic analysis, log analysis and cryptography. Based on the results of the game, players were placed in one of three brackets — gold, silver
or bronze — to facilitate play among players with similar skill levels. The regular season officially kicked off in November with two games. Game 1 focused on open source intelligence, network traffic analysis, scanning and reconnaissance, password cracking, and web application exploitation. In Game 2, students tackled log analysis, wireless access exploitation, cryptography, and enumeration and exploitation. All players competed simultaneously within the same 12-hour window. SNHU PENmen team captain Beyerl made her Cyber League competition debut in 2015, competing individually in the bronze bracket. In 2016, she rose to the gold bracket and scored in the top 10 percent overall.
“Being a student at SNHU for the past three years and being on the Cyber League team for two has given me the opportunity to obtain new skills in order to advance within the STEM field,” Beyerl said, who’s earning her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, focusing on cyber security and software development. “Both
experiences have given me the confidence to be less of a wallflower and much more assertive than I was a few years ago or even a few months ago.” Beyerl, a technical support specialist who has her sights set on a career as a security engineer, said participating in Cyber League and becoming a team captain helped her develop more than just technical expertise. “I have never been in a position to share my knowledge with my peers and now that I am, I have really proven to myself that I know more than I thought,” she said. “I have already started applying leadership skills to my current role at work as well as everyday life.”
Rush of the Competition Kristina Greenshields, a member of the SNHU PENmen team, is earning her Bachelor of Science in Information Technologies with a concentration in Cyber Security. Her goal is to work for the FBI, NSA and local law enforcement agencies, helping to stop domestic and foreign cyber terrorism. She joined Cyber League at the encouragement of her academic advisor.
“(Cyber League) seemed like the best place to get hands-on experience and also learn how to work with a team that was not in the same room or even the same state,” Greenshields said. “The fact that it was being offered as a class for credit was a bonus!”
During the fall competition, Greenshields scored in the top 10 percent of the bronze bracket. “The competition was exhilarating and nervewracking at the same time,” Greenshields said. “You think you know something and then you realize that you only have a few more attempts to get the right answer. You have to realize when to move on and, if there is time, you can go back to that question and try again. “It’s such an adrenaline rush. You never want it to end — and then you remember you need to sleep,” she said. For Greenshields, being a student at SNHU and a member of Cyber League has had a positive influence in both her life and her career.
“I have more confidence in myself to succeed as a woman in the STEM field, because I know I am a capable person who can do whatever I set my mind on,” she said. “The powerful women here at SNHU have proven that succeeding in this field is possible. I know that if I need anything, I have a large network of people to rely upon. I am not fighting a battle alone, I have thousands of women behind me — and some men, too!”
No Way to Lose First-year player Ferreira said participating in Cyber League helped her develop skills that are transferrable beyond the tech field. “I think I have become an exponentially more efficient and well-prepared IT professional as a result
of the Cyber League,” said Ferreira, who finished in the top 20 percent of the bronze bracket. “Cyber League moves you beyond books, papers and classroom discussions. The challenges that are offered give you the opportunity to think on your feet and apply everything you’ve learned in life, beyond one isolated topic.” To Ferreira, no matter how high they ranked, every student who participated finished on top. “The only way to lose in the Cyber League is to give up,” Ferreira said. “If you are still learning, you can continue to grow and improve your knowledge in cyber security no matter where you start from. Whether you use this knowledge to increase your skills and security in your own personal life or apply it to the business you work for, there’s no way to lose.”
N O T Y OU R
AV ER AG E
HOUR OF CODE
Middle school students get a new tech lab and a rare lesson in coding
Creating opportunities to enrich the learning experiences of nearly 800 middle school students is no small undertaking. So imagine the delight of staff and teachers at Manchester, NH’s Parkside Middle School when the school was chosen last fall to receive a new technology lab, made possible through a special partnership with Southern New Hampshire University.
Christened “Innovation Kingdom” by Parkside student Grady Barber, the lab opened on November 29, 2016. To celebrate the opening, SNHU’s Dr. Gwen Britton led the students in an hour of coding event. She was joined by Angie Foss, associate dean of STEM programs, and Amelia Manni, an online student soon to graduate with a master’s in data analytics.
Thirty Parkside students participated in the event, where they got to control the virtual actions of “BB8,” the droid from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
Working in pairs on donated Chromebooks, the kids first
watched a video and then dove into the project. Britton, Foss and Manni provided help and encouragement along the way. Excited by how quickly many of the students moved along, Foss said, “They’re doing well, and they know math. They’ve even edited the code. Not everyone does that.” After the coding exercise, Britton shared her perspective with the students, recounting how she learned early on that girls and women with interest in STEM often received little support in the pursuit of their passion. She didn’t let that discourage her, though, and found ways to fulfill her dreams, encouraging every Parkside student to do the same.