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:


In Oregon there is no ‘under-served.”

There’s always a big battle going on to help even the odds for the people who have hills to fight up—whether it’s homelife, finances, some social issue or something else, some people just have it a bit tougher.

One thing that Oregon knows is that people with hills to fight up wind up being stronger, if they manage to get to the top. In other words, they’re really good engineers because they have the experience of fighting up that hill on top of getting the same knowledge everyone is supposed to have. And they’re passionate, because they don’t want anyone else to have to fight up that same hill.

That’s why Oregon is so great about helping out the under-served engineers. Aside from having a great and active engineering and CS community across the state, we have a ton of programs like Girls Get IT! which is actually made by a student, and a pretty active NCWIT community too, and programs to get kids into engineering.

But this isn’t just about women, either. Hispanic students are notorious for being good programmers and engineers, but being very underrepresented for one reason or another. But Hispanic enrollment at SOU just went up by 25%.

In fact, minority enrollment in general, in Oregon, is climbing steadily [pdf].

What it boils down to is this: if you’ve got it hard, for whatever reason, Oregon is a good place to be if you want to succeed. And once you get up there, you’ll be welcomed as part of the already-diverse crowd of engineers we’ve got.

Read on:

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.