KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Between working in Western Michigan University's College of Arts and Sciences technology services center and participating in the Bronco Cybersecurity club, senior Benjamin Breadon has been able to gain real-world experience while remaining focused on his studies as a cybersecurity major.
He says one of the best academic experiences he has had during his time in the program has been in the classroom with Dr. Alan Rea, professor of business information systems. In the secure web apps and technology and system analysis and design courses, Breadon and his team worked to design and program a secure web application.
“This made for the most difficult and frustrating semester of my life, but by far the most rewarding,” says Breadon. “This project solidified knowledge I already had and let me apply much of it to real-world scenarios and introduced me to concepts I may not have learned otherwise.”
Another channel Breadon applies the plethora of knowledge he has gained from his course work is through his on-campus job at the technology services center. As a staff member, he helps students and faculty with hardware and software support, file server shared folders, audio and visual equipment, and more. Breadon is not only thankful for the opportunity to apply classroom knowledge, but also for the networking opportunities that helped expand his involvement at Western.
“The work I have done here introduced me to WMU’s network structure, security policies, faculty and staff I would never have met otherwise, co-workers turned friends, and even WMU’s own Kane Greer, founder of the cybersecurity club,” explains Breadon.
Kane Greer, also a cybersecurity student, convinced Breadon to join the Bronco Cybersecurity Club where he and his partner Jo Grutter placed fourth at the Midwest Collegiate Computing Conference this past March. It is rewarding opportunities such as this that Breadon encourages new students to not only participate in, but to influence.
“I recommend this program not just for its educational benefits but for its supportive faculty members,” says Breadon. “I believe that any new cybersecurity student should take the initiative and reach out to their professors early on and ask how they can become more active in the program.”
Through these experiences, Breadon discovered his most rewarding work comes from creation, technology for entertainment and thinking like one’s opposition. Coming up, Breadon plans to apply these passions to the Senior Engineering Design project in his final year in the cybersecurity program.
“I am eager to tackle another unique project that can solidify my learned skills and challenge me with new concepts,” says Breadon.
Staying on this path of innovation and initiative, Breadon considers pursuing network administration. Using the skills and knowledge Breadon has gained from his time at Western through coursework, the College of Arts and Science technology services center and the Bronco Cybersecurity club will help shape his future in Cybersecurity.
“As much as I have learned thus far, I still don’t know where my true passion lies within cybersecurity or the IT field in general,” explains Breadon. “I believe networking can still present many opportunities for growth within a respectable company. Ideally, I would love to work for a company whose purpose I truly value.”