Practicum projects offer real-world industry exposure

Last fall, teams of Information Networking Institute (INI) bicoastal mobility and information security students collaborated with companies in Silicon Valley to solve complex problems.

In the practicum project, these students developed apps powered by blockchain, researched the security of enterprise routers, created airport simulation tools, analyzed electric vehicle and smart home energy data, and much more.

“From a sponsor's perspective, the value of the practicum is influence. Sharing the Cisco brand and culture, inspiring the next generation, giving back - all while improving our recruiting pipeline,” said Chris Dorros, a 2012 alumnus of the bicoastal information security program. 

Dorros was one of three INI alumni who sponsored projects in 2017.

For Leo Boulton (MS16), the practicum was a means to obtain outside-in perspective, in an unbiased way, to a challenging problem at Cisco.

“INI students are brilliant, and always looking to think outside the box, without an ‘it-can't-be-done’ mentality,” he said.

INI student Nitish Balachandran (MS28) said the best part about working with Cisco was getting an inside look at what Cisco does to stay ahead of the curve in router security.

“I don't think that you can get such industry-specific insight from a conventional academic setting, so it's great that the practicum afforded us this opportunity. Working with an INI alumnus is great because we were always well taken care of,” he said.

Other student teams gained exposure to a whole new set of technologies. Working alongside alumnus Yen-Ming Chen (MS10), Team Quin built a mobile app powered by a blockchain technology that allows the user to create, connect and manage online and real-world trust relationships.

“I hope they experienced the whole process from ideation to fruition, and are able to apply that in the future. Because that was exactly my goal, to bring together a team to actualize an idea to a proof-of-concept," said Chen.