This fall semester, I have not been attending classes. At most universities, this would be alarming to hear. However, I am an engineering student at the University of Cincinnati, which means I will be completing 5 coops within my 5 years of studies.
Currently, I am a Security Operations Coop at The Lubrizol Corporation. My responsibilities include investigating email phishing tickets submitted by employees and helping with other activities carried out by the Security Operations Center.
Being part of this team has opened my eyes to the security and networking aspects of computer science. So far in my path of CS, I have only formally learned coding languages. One of my goals is to learn more about how information is transferred and I have been able to do that in my role. I learned at the SoNIC workshop that information is transferred in packets. In my role, I am able to see the information passed through firewalls and servers from externally to internally and vice versa. The lack of knowledge I have in the way that computers fundamentally work has inspired me to learn more about it.
Another work in progress are my communication skills. In my role, I run 2 weekly meetings and send email updates every day. I also communicate with employees directly to follow up on security incidents. Because of this, I would like to think that my communication skills are improving.
Although this is a short update, I am excited to see what the next 10-ish weeks brings me!
Although it's been quite a while since my last post, I just wanted to wrap up the experiences I had at the SONiC workshop at Cornell. To reiterate, the goal of the workshop was to expose CS students of minorities to the idea of pursuing graduate degrees.
During days 3-5, we heard talks from more Cornell faculty and staff about their roles and experiences. One highlight speaker was Hadas Kress-Gazit, who oversaw the Autonomous Systems Lab, which focuses on robot innovation. We were able to take a look at the lab and the projects she and her students were working on. One project was a robot companion that would lead people to safety during a fire. Although the project was still in its stages of infancy, we were able to observe a demo of the robot.
We also got to hear from Hadas about her journey to her current position and her experience as a woman in a more male-saturated field. Hearing her story inspired me and reinforced my validity as a woman in CS.
On day 4, we had the chance to go on a boat tour of Cayuga Lake, one of the Finger Lakes near Cornell. Although it was windy and about to rain any second, we were able to mingle with the rest of the workshop participants and exchange stories. Snapchats and Instagrams were exchanged and even today, a couple of months later, I still talk to the people I met.
Day 5 was the last day of workshop activities, which included a final presentation of what we learned during the research portion of the workshop. The research portion included reading data from network packets in C. The most important takeaway for me personally was that there is still so much I don’t know about computers and technology. Networks and the hardware of computers are important in order to know fundamentally how a computer works and I lack knowledge of both of these topics. I never really thought about how the data is sent through the internet; this is a huge gap in my knowledge that I am determined to fill soon.
The big question, after reading all of this, is “Will I pursue a graduate degree?”
The answer is probably yes*. The asterisk is because I don’t plan or feel ready to go straight to pursuing a Ph.D. after obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. I don’t think I will know what topic I would be interested in focusing my graduate studies on within the next 3 years. My plan is to go into the workforce and see what I like and don’t like and use that time to see what makes me go “I would like to really learn about this and become the world’s expert on this topic.”
Of course, things could always change. I may find the topic that interests me within my next 3 years. So I am keeping my mind open to all paths.