Consciousness-raising is one of the responsibilities we have as engineering educators (and of course I am using the term “engineering” inclusive of computer science). Students need to keep their eyes on the goal: not just a degree to be earned through four years of toil and tribulation, but a career in an exciting field where much good can be done to benefit others.
We at the DeMatteis School have several initiatives that help students to see the big picture. The first is one which I have spoken about often in this column: our co-op program, which twice annually sends 15 to 20 students out to work full-time for one of the rapidly growing number of companies we partner with, giving them a lengthy experience of the working world prior to graduation.
Of course, involvement with one type of firm for six to eight months does not necessarily display the full breadth of possibilities awaiting the soon-to-be graduate, even when a company interacts with many vendors, clients and sub-contractors. So, with the encouragement of our Advisory Board, we decided to launch our Executive Speaker Series, which invites outstanding practitioners in engineering and computer science to present informative talks about their careers and challenges in the fast-changing technologies affecting our lives.
We began in February with a fantastic overview of the expectations of both employers and new engineers from Joseph Heaney, owner and principal of Walden Associates Environmental Engineering. He inspired a standing room only crowd of students (on a Friday afternoon!) with his talk “So You Want to be an Engineer,” which was filled with sage observations about how prospective employees should present themselves to get hired, and how they should approach their jobs to develop productive fulfilling careers. Joe is also one of the two co-chairs of our Dean’s Advisory Board.
After a March punctuated by several snow days and Spring Break, the speaker series continues in April with two great talks on tap. James Nolan, executive vice president of InterDigital’s Internet of Things Solutions will be discussing “Evolving Digital Media: Content and Advertising on Mobile Devices” on Friday, April 13th at 3:30 pm in 208 Adams Hall. In addition to overseeing R&D, commercial development and deployment of cloud-based IoT solutions, Jim is a good friend to the DeMatteis School, and he, too, serves as co-chair of our Board.
The other upcoming talk is “Leading the Path to (Cyber) Security: A Personal Journey and Stories from Across the Globe,” presented by Shawn Henry, President and CSO of CrowdStrike Services, Inc., a company which specializes in proactive and incident response services for companies trying to protect sensitive data and networks from malware. Mr. Henry is a Hofstra alumnus and was in charge of the FBI’s worldwide cybersecurity investigations until retiring as executive sasistant director of the agency in 2012 and joining CrowdStrike. He will be speaking at the Hofstra University Club on Monday, April 23rd at 4:30 pm. If you are in the area, feel free to join us for either of these talks.
The personal stories of all industry leaders are immensely interesting. They remind our students that a career in engineering or computer science is far more than a soulless sifting of data or creation of CAD designs. It is a journey encountering many challenges that require creativity and attention to societal needs. We have every reason to assume that this Executive Speaker Series will play a decisive role in raising the consciousness of our students from contemplating their computer screens or their laboriously constructed free body diagrams, and help infuse them with the thrill of being involved in a noble life-enhancing enterprise.