The Will County Health Department puts its faith in Lewis University’s Computer Science students when it comes to risk assessments and ensuring secure data for its many constituents. The WCHD asked for Lewis Computer Science students to return this semester and continue partnering on projects.
“Lewis is a program that speaks to our needs,” said Sue Olenek, executive director of the WCHD. “Universities are on the cutting edge of technology. We serve as project managers along with the faculty, and students put their significant skills to work in a real-time, real-world learning experience that has proven to be a fantastic mutual partnership.”
The WCHD approached Lewis prior to the 2016 spring semester about the possibility of performing a study to gain a sense of its security profile. It needed to know if its critical systems were protected as they should be.
“They deal with a lot of personally identifiable information, particularly regarding health, so it is critically important for them to safeguard all that data,” explained Dr. Ray Klump, chair of Computer and Mathematical Sciences at Lewis University.
“We came to Lewis because Lewis offers a great education in cyber security through the Computer Science department, and we also wanted to give a nearby educational institution an opportunity to provide its students a thoroughly real-world experience,” added Olenek.
Computer and Mathematical Sciences (CaMS) Cyber Defense Group students Brandon White, Steven Day, Gabriel Berki, and Alejandro Rodriguez worked with the WCHD and Klump to perform testing on the WCHD system in the spring semester.
The students essentially served as ethical hackers of the WCHD system. “An ethical hacker's purpose is to investigate systems selected by the customer to see if those systems leak any data or can provide unauthorized access,” explained Dr. Klump. “A company's information infrastructure is a complicated thing, consisting of lots of different devices running a variety of services and operating systems and hosting various data.”
According to White, the testing provided growth opportunities that enhance what they’ve learned in the classroom. While classroom lab networks are generally very controlled and simple, the network of an organization like the Health Department is much more complex; more devices, more services running, more users, and most importantly higher stakes.
The generosity of alumni and other friends to Lewis University helps to provide the experiential learning and training opportunities that allows Lewis students to be in demand for these partnerships.
“I think when you provide a student real-world experience, you help them decide what they want to do,” said Anthony Melei, Information Technology and Telecommunications coordinator for the WCHD and a 1988 Lewis graduate. “The last thing a student wants to do is spend four years in school before going into the work environment and finding what they thought they’d be doing is quite different from the actual career in front of them. Projects like these help them navigate what they’d like to do in a career.”
Lewis University offers a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Computer Engineering, with concentrations in Cyber Security, Web and Mobile Development, Data Science, and Video Game Development. It also offers minors in Computer Science, Cyber Security Science, Data Science, and Web and Mobile Application Development. At the graduate level, it offers a nationally recognized for a Master of Science in Information Security program, which includes an innovative fast-track that enables students to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in five years. A master's degree in Data Science is also available for students who wish to learn more about Big Data. A new Master of Science in Computer Science started this fall.
Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,700 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit www.lewisu.edu for further information.