Archive for February 2019

Women in STEM

Fellow Blogger Cassidy Hill introduces the Women in STEM event,

On Saturday, February 9, the Department of PSCE at Christopher Newport University partnered with Newport News Shipbuilding to host the Women in STEM Exploration Day. This was an invitation only event for middle and high school young women who are interested in STEM-related fields in college and beyond. To help the event run smoothly, CNU STEM students volunteered to host exhibits and activities throughout the day.

Jessica Gomez, the Director of Engineering at Newport News Shipbuilding, kicked off the event with opening remarks to everyone. Gomez spoke about her own personal experience being a young woman interested in STEM and how her teachers and older brother inspired her to find her gift in STEM. She encouraged every young woman in the room to take advantage of the different demonstrations they would have the opportunity to experience throughout the day and find what gives them inspiration. She ended her opening statements by telling everyone, “You are a force to be reckoned with.”

After Gomez’s remarks, students were given the chance to experience what it is like to take a college-level physics lab. Students separated into two groups, one to go to the Geometric Optics lab and the other to go to the Projectile Motion Lab. In the Optics Lab, presented by Dr. David Gore, students investigated how light bends through materials of different shapes and sizes. They played with different angles of lights, curved materials, and even made their own miniature projectors. In the Projectile Motion Lab, presented by Dr. Robert Fersch, students were given two targets, one closer and one further away, and had to experiment with the force and angles to hit the targets. At the end of each lab, both Dr. Gore and Dr. Fersch led a discussion about the theory behind their respective labs, giving students a more in depth look into what a college lab and lecture is like.

Once students were finished with both labs, they ate a pizza lunch. During their lunch, they were able to speak with female STEM majors at CNU to talk about their passions, what college is like, and the opportunities that come with being a STEM major, including different internships and clubs they can be a part of.

The rest of the afternoon was set aside for an open house full of STEM exhibits and activities, predominately led by CNU female STEM student volunteers. Just a few of the exhibits that students could enjoy were autonomous robotics, making their own slime, two-point discrimination, and even an escape room puzzle. They also had the chance to talk to CNU students about their work outside of the classroom during poster sessions, including a botany internship with the Walt Disney Company and investigating healthy waters in Newport News. Newport News Shipbuilding hosted an activity that challenged students to create their own roller coaster with just straws and tape. The catch? The ball that rode their roller coaster had to stop in designated areas given to them.

At the end of the day, Regina Miller, radiation safety analyst at Newport News Shipbuilding, gave closing remarks. She thanked Clare Maliniak for planning the day and all of the CNU volunteers for helping encourage younger women pursue their passions. Miller ended the day by telling the young women that even though being in a STEM field will be hard, they should never give up because they will get through it and they will make a difference.

Pizza My Mind Presented by Marathon Consulting

Are you considering to work in the area after graduation and interested in IT work? Marathon Consulting may be the place for you. The company has an office in Richmond and is headquartered in Virginia Beach.

Marathon is a relatively small company, having been founded just over ten years ago. However, it has over ninety IT consultants that average fifteen years of experience. Turnover rate at Marathon is noticeably less when compared to the consulting field as a whole so it is a great place to being a potentially long career in IT.

Maintaining and helping improve the talents of its employees is a major principle at Marathon. The work done will be important and in service to clients who understand your value as a consultant and will understand what you are capable of as well as being referenceable. Clients of all sizes are available in a vast variety of industries from healthcare to Property Management. Consultants are expected to determine both what the customer needs and the best way to achieve that goal.

Employees of the company have their health insurance premiums covered in full as well as training and mentoring opportunities.

Non seasonal internships are offered at Marathon as well as full time positions. If you would like learn more check out the link below

Pizza My Mind Presented by Daniel H. Wagner and Associates

Daniel H. Wagner Associates, Inc. participated in the Pizza My Mind program on Thursday, Jan. 31.  Senior Associate William VanDyke from the Hampton, VA office led the discussion with help from CNU alumni, William Drumheller, and HR representative, Teresa Lewis. Together they shared the company’s 50+ years of experience with CNU students.
Willian VanDyke speaking for the Wagner team
Wagner Associates focuses on operations research, mathematics and software development. This includes Data Fusion, where Wagner Associates, Inc. is working to make use of autonomous boats in order to detect submarines and other threats. In addition, they are focusing to create an efficient defense strategy based on sensor and location data. The company also works to find mathematical solutions to parallel computing, mission planning, and financial questions. William Drumheller described how his own internship was structured to give students an idea of what to expect. When he first started his internship, he worked on small projects around the office. Eventually, he had the opportunity to be placed on a larger project planning effective areas to be used as missile targets. Drumheller also discussed an application used to pull reliable weather information from multiple sources and compile it into one place. For the programming used on both of these projects, Java was the language of choice. Wagner Associates, Inc. offers flexible work hours within a casual work environment. Work is available in Virginia in Hampton and Vienna. If you wanted to travel outside of Virginia, there is also an office in Exton, Pennsylvania. Internships are paid and full-time employees get 89% of their health insurance premium covered. It is required that applicants be a US citizen preferably with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Software Engineering. Degrees in Mathematics or Engineering will be considered. The minimum GPA requirement is 3.3. Applications can be sent in now. For more info on opportunities in Hampton, VA email For Vienna, VA email

Pizza My Mind as Presented by Genworth

On January 24, speakers from Genworth Financial Insurance came to present at Pizza My Mind. Genworth Financial Insurance is a company dedicated to helping people maintain financial security as they age. In addition, they also have numerous projects to work on developing new technologies. Throughout the presentation, opened by college relations officer Emma Duncan, the primary technological focus was RPA, or Robotic Process Automation.

The goal of RPA implementations is to get work done in a safer and more efficient way than humans can achieve. In the example provided, a human user took around five minutes longer to complete a simple web based task than their AI counterpart. The application of AI as a whole is a major part of RPA development and can lead to countless possibilities as developers are freed up to do more complex tasks. Some examples of RPA’s include self driving cars, pattern recognition, Google Maps, and Alexa. You can visit their website for more information if you are interested in the development and use of this technology.

Genworth hosts paid internships as well as a postgraduate six month rotational IT development program. The six month program is designed so new employees can experience a variety of different roles at the company. This allows them to find out what kind of projects they are passionate about and lets them decide which team they want to be a part of. Interns at the company will be working on full and critical projects that will provide valuable experience. Full time positions are also available.

If you would like to know more send an email to or check out the site below for application information:

Pizza My Mind presented by the U.S. House of Representatives

Randy Vickers, Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for the United States House of Representatives, hosted January 17th’s Pizza My Mind. Randy Vickers is a former DOD employee who works to prevent breaches on the representatives systems and to protect the entire network from potential security risks. Vickers and his team are responsible for the technical security of all members of the House of Representatives as well as their shared infrastructure.

Unlike most security jobs, Representatives within the security team have a right to privacy on a much higher level than a standard employee. In order to take data outside of the building or work remotely, permission must be acquired specifically from the relevant representative. This is a layer of complexity most security jobs do not require.

The most notable challenge is the maintaining of the right of petition. Anyone has the right to address their representative through email. This creates a large number of emails that must be monitored to prevent malicious code from getting through. For example, when the emails are gathered and sorted, they must be prevent attempts to access data. If malicious code is missed or if a representative opens something hazardous to the network, then the email or file is quarantined and the file is blocked by the firewall. In more extreme cases, the computer will be temporarily taken off of the network.

A map (will be pictured below) that is used to track activity on the relevant computers was shown. While the jagged lines appear to be nonsensical at first glance, the patterns of high activity can easily be seen in different colors. This helps detect where possible dangerous sources may be originating from.

Vickers gives an interesting perspective on the inner workings of his response team and the struggles they must deal with to keep the House of Representatives running. This is the first chance most students have had in understanding how the back end security teams works. If this interests you, then it will be beneficial to ask future employers about their government contracts and whether or not they are able to connect you with work at the House of Representatives. The vast majority of their positions are contracted to other companies so this is the best way to approach this opportunity.

No paid internships exist at the moment but unpaid internships do exist if you live in the D.C. area. You can also visit their office individually if you would like to learn more.

Follow the link below to see the site for House of Representatives.