Why Oregon Needs Secure Networking Engineers

Yesterday, the Oregon University System recently disclosed a news release about a security breach (PDF here) in three of its universities. This security breach means many Oregonians may have had their credit card information stolen, and shows just how necessary it is for Oregon to rely on Oregonian network engineers to keep data safe.

These three universities contracted a box office management service (for things like theatrical events) to a company called Vendini. While it’s easy to blame a whole company for the security breach, we have to ask: who’s really responsible?

Vendini is a company based in San Francisco, where network engineers are hired in the ten thousands and demand is incredibly high. Great, it’s the land of opportunity—but with that many people getting hired, you’re more likely to have a few bad eggs.

What we need are good network engineers living in Oregon, so we can keep services like this local and premium.

But more to the point, what is a network engineer?

Nobody uses laptops with both hands, in pictures. Here's a network engineer.

Computer networking engineers come in two flavors—architects and administrators—and their job is to design/implement or maintain computer networks for many kinds of companies or organizations.

Often, someone is hired to be a network architect, and once the job is done they will become the administrator—that’s why we just call the job “network engineering,” since the job winds up looking like the engineering design process. It also means they often work full-time for the same company, rather than working for a centralized firm and selling their services.

One of the most critical jobs of a networking engineer is to make sure their network is safe and secure. Obviously, the networks for Vendini were not. Does that mean they’re a bad company? Of course not.

But it does mean that their networking engineers have their work cut out for them—because they store credit card information and addresses, they need to keep their data safe from hackers by whatever means possible.

Oh, and as it turns out: Oregon has the highest mean annual wage for network architects, at about $115,520.

Read on:

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OSU can help you climb to the top

W

hen people think of engineering schools that will get you places, they often think of far-away schools. Usually Ivy-league ones. Right?

The Gaulkes donated some spare cash to OSU's CoE. Mike Gaulke is chairman and former CEO of the engineering/consulting firm, Exponent Inc. Photo from Portland Business Journal.

That might be a common preconceived idea, but the fact of the matter is that we’ve got a great school right here in the state: Oregon State University.

Recently, a couple alumni of OSU donated $3.5 million to the College of Engineering. An awesome move which is gonna help OSU’s CoE grow and become even better.

But think about this: that the Gaulkes have this kind of cash to throw around means they’ve really made it. They’re successful!

And they’re from little ole’ OSU? Sometimes OSU is seen by Oregonians as a humble in-state university for sciencey types. And while it specializes in the sciences, for sure, it’s certainly not humble. It’s one of the top 100 engineering schools in the U.S.

There are students at OSU from all 50 states, and from 90 countries outside the US. In fact, in 2010 more than one third of the students were from out-of-state, and over 1,500 of them were from outside the US.

And what do you think they’re all coming for? Humanities, physical sciences, social sciences, engineering, and math are the top five. And though only one of those is explicitly engineering, remember that all of them but humanities and math are inquiry-based, and almost all of them will somehow help an engineer.

Because remember, engineering isn’t about what you major in, but what you do. Engineers solve problems. Engineers make. And engineer Mike Gaulke and his wife certainly solved some problems at OSU by donating, and made an impact for future students.

You will be able too, if you stick with engineering and work hard. You can become as successful as these folks, if not more so. Keep at it!

Read on:

Getting the real drop on next year’s robotics/programming competitions with real grants.

It might be a little late for this year, but if there’s one thing we want you to understand is just how cool Oregon’s robotics and programming competitions are. Like the upcoming OGPC 5.0, for example (which you can still register for!). There are some pretty spectacular opportunities out there for you, if you’ll just reach out and grab them. So get the drop on next year’s round of competitions by having your teacher apply for a grant, so your school can start its own team!

Sometimes it’s tough to get a team started, simply because the people who want to do it just don’t have the tools they feel the need. For a programming competition, that means laptops and textbooks. For robotics, that means LEGO NXT brains, books, and probably also laptops. And those things are not cheap!

If you email your teacher the links at the end of this post, or let them see the links some other way, there’s a good chance they will just go ahead and apply. As of today, there is still plenty of time–about 2 and a half weeks–to write a good application for next year. And a good application means a good chance of getting accepted, which means one important thing: money.

In an idealist’s world money would never be a problem, but the truth is that sometimes it is. Oregon has programs like these grants to help even things out, but you still have to earn your money by writing a good application and showing you’ll use the money well! We want you to succeed just as much as you want to, which means you’ve got to want it.

So send your teacher an email. Now.

Read on

Handy grant stuff:

Cool programming competition stuff:

Sustainability in Oregon

In our previous post we shared a bit of a utopia, in terms of what sustainable engineering looks like. And though it’s really cool—its net carbon footprint is expected to be zero—it’s not the only example of sustainability; we’ve got some prime examples in Oregon

There’s an international group called LEED which basically goes around and rates buildings based on how green they are. They check for things like CO2 emissions and water/power consumption. And they’ve got a pretty intuitive ranking system: bronze is good, silver is better, gold is better-er, and platinum is better-est. (Portland actually made this list of greenest cities in the world, which is pretty impressive.)

But more than that, our universities have taken some good steps towards being green. Check out this list of LEED-certified buildings on OUS campuses:

University of Oregon

Western Oregon University

Oregon State University

Portland State University

OUS Statewide Tour

You might vaguely remember a school announcement about colleges giving presentations—it’s usually aimed at high school seniors, since they’re, you know, going to college the next year. Guess what?

The folks who get that ball rolling? Same folks I work for. The Oregon University System goes around to public and private high schools (238 this year) and, according to the newsletter I’ve got in front of me, is to help “encourage [you] to explore [your] college options.”

Summary of this newsletter:

College reps are going to talk to you about the seven OUS schools around the state. They’re going to know average tuition, what majors are offered (or at least where to go to find out), how to get financial aid, and when all involved applications are due.

Your school will probably try and make you go to this. But even if they don’t, I think it’s a good idea.

I mean, senioritis is no joke—as I typed it, I realized the Microsoft Word spellchecker recognizes it as a real word—but you seniors won’t be seniors next year. And this thing is only two hours long. But if you’re going to go, ask some questions

  • I don’t know what I want to do for the rest of my life—which schools are well-rounded so I can decide there?
  • I want to do this-or-that, where should I go and why?
  • What schools have good internship programs?
  • Which ones have good on-campus jobs? Working the food court might work freshman year, but I’m talking good on-campus jobs, relevant to my interests?
  • I’ve got some weird esoteric hobby. Is there a club for it at any of these schools? (They probably won’t know the answer to this, so ask them where you can find out. Get a phone number or a URL)

Seriously. I came up with these questions in about 2 minutes. And you know what you like; you can come up with some better ones that are even more relevant to you. Useful links:

  • Visitation Schedule—find your school on here. They’re ordered by date, done by region.
  • Brochure—the pages I’m citing below are done by PDF pages, not the pages printed in the file
    • Page 13 and 14 to see what is offered at which schools.
    • Page 20 for admission and scholarship deadlines (read the blurb on top about Financial Aid)
    • Page 22 for average costs by school.
  • Campus tour dates—also in the brochure on page 12; if you wind up liking one of the schools, go to its tour. You might not think the campus is a big deal, but you’ll likely be living there. Think about it. Plus, the tour guides are usually kids who are going to the school, so they’ll know the cool hangouts and whatnot.