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IT Club Boots Up

The+IT+club+met+outside+the+FBI+facility+that+they+toured.+They+learned+about+cyber+security+and+how+the+government+protects+their+servers.+
The IT club met outside the FBI facility that they toured. They learned about cyber security and how the government protects their servers.

The IT club met outside the FBI facility that they toured. They learned about cyber security and how the government protects their servers.

The IT club met outside the FBI facility that they toured. They learned about cyber security and how the government protects their servers.

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The Information Technology (IT) Club is offering students a taste of what will be expanded upon in the new STEM facilities and programs at the DJ Sokol Learning for Life school building.  It is providing students who have interests in technology with hands-on experience, which is invaluable in today’s information-based global marketplace.

“When you work in IT, it is important to understand that you can teach things in a classroom environment,” IT Mentor and Director of Technology Dr. Thomas Rzemyk said.  “You can even do the hands-on lab in the classroom environment.  But to actually get out into the field and meet public and private level professionals that actually work some of those positions is a whole different thing.”

The goal this year is for the IT Club to take one field trip every quarter.  They began this year by taking a trip to the Scott Data Center where they attended an FBI presentation.  It included not only getting a first-hand look at the facility, but there were also opportunities to speak to people who work in IT.

“[At the Scott Data Center,] they got to speak to six or seven individuals from different sectors but who were all part of the cyber-crime task force,” Rzemyk said.

The trip was exciting and engaging.  The interactions and overall-learning experience helped students connect what they had been learning in the classroom to its real-life applications.

“We had a great time there… It was a really good reflection on what we learned in [cybersecurity] class and how it could actually be applied to real life,” Adel Elbendary ‘18 said.

While learning material in the classroom is important, it is more than worthwhile to really experience what is being learned.  This is especially true when it comes to IT.

“Instead of talking about data farms and data centers [in class], we got to walk through it, smell it, feel it, feel the heat that the servers put off, hear the hum of the servers and of the switches,” Rzemyk said.

The club has much to benefit from on these trips, and they have been made possible by Dr. Rzemyk’s connections in the community.  He has contacts at the local, state, and federal levels across the United States.

“Dr. Rzemyk has the most incredible connections within the [IT] community,” IT Club Co-Leader Dash Wedergren ‘18 said.  “It truly brings those concepts into real life and helps the students really see what a future in the field of IT could look like.”

The club began as an extension of the cybersecurity class that Dr. Rzemyk teaches.  By providing this opportunity to students, those who were unable to take his the class, as well as those who had interests in IT other than cybersecurity, are able to engage with the topics that really intrigue them.  

“There were lots of students who were interested in programming, policy procedures, security architecture, networking, and robotics,” Rzemyk said. “There were students who were interested in all that, but there wasn’t necessarily a cohesive club that existed.”

The IT Club has been made especially engaging due to a more hands-off approach.  Dr. Rzemyk is present to help guide the group through their learning experience, and his mentoring has benefitted the group by allowing the members to become involved through the student-led structure that has been set up.

“It is the most engaging club that I have been a part of,” Wedergren said.

Wedergren and Jackson Panzer ‘18 have both been appointed leaders of the IT Club by Dr. Rzemyk.  This involved lots of planning, figuring out what members wanted to learn, and even teaching concepts to others in the group.

“Dr. Rzemyk has really strived to make the club student-led.  The leadership is students with Panzer and myself, and we really draw from our base of talents that we have in the IT Club,” Wedergren said.

J.P. Jensen ‘19, Allen Cheng ‘19, Wedergren, and Panzer have or will all contribute to the group by making presentations on various topics in IT.  Upcoming presentations will include a robotics programming lab, a networking fundamentals presentation that will integrate the Mount’s own networking infrastructure, and an IT ethics case study.  Members of the club will be helping introduce and explain these subjects to their peers.

“If they are interested in programming, engineering, theory, or security architecture, my goal is to tap into those skills that students want to prosper on,” Rzemyk said.

The IT Club is currently open to all students.  There are no prerequisites to joining the club or attending a meeting; in fact, no previous knowledge about IT is necessary to get involved.

“You need absolutely zero knowledge [of IT] coming in[to the club],” Wedergren said.

They meet once every two weeks.  The next meeting of the IT Club will be on Oct. 11, where they will perform a robotics programming lab.

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IT Club Boots Up