Corporate partnership benefits students

Students participate in a cybersecurity escape room activity, hosted by U.S. Steel executives, in the fall of 2019.

Students participate in a cybersecurity escape room activity, hosted by U.S. Steel executives, in the fall of 2019.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

The best way to thwart a criminal is to think like one.

That’s the idea behind a cybersecurity escape room that Behrend students had the opportunity to participate in last fall, thanks to Steve Bugajski, vice president and chief information officer for U.S. Steel, who serves as the Executive in Residence (EIR) for the Black School of Business’ Management Information Systems program.

Bugajski, along with other U.S. Steel executives and the company’s cybersecurity team, hosted the event in which more than fifty students were challenged to think like hackers during a fun, interactive day-long activity (held, it should be noted, prior to the pandemic). Following the escape room activity, U. S. Steel information technology experts hosted a hacking demonstration to teach students how to spot and stop attacks.

“It was nice to work with my fellow students in the escape room and to use what we’ve learned to think outside the box,” said John Peterson, a senior MIS major.

U.S. Steel has embraced the Black School of Business’ EIR program, offering executive-to-student mentor­ships, special events, guest speakers, and more. A number of MIS majors are now being mentored by company executives, who routinely assign the students tasks and meet via phone or video conferencing with them to discuss their career goals and offer feedback.

“This has been an awesome experi­ence for students,” said Dr. Kathleen Noce, teaching professor of MIS. “Mr. Bugajski has created numerous oppor­tunities for our students to learn about the corporate environment and how U.S. Steel is utilizing the technologies, tools, and foundational knowledge they are learning in their courses.

This year, the MIS program piloted an on-campus internship with U.S. Steel, which Noce hopes will lead to multiple on-campus internships in the future.

“The internship I did with U.S. Steel showed me how big businesses work

Students work internally on many levels,” said Marcello Frollo, who graduated in May with a degree in MIS. “It gave me a lot of confidence as I headed out into the job market.”

U.S. Steel has found the EIR program to be a valuable partnership, too.

“We have the opportunity to interact with tomorrow’s professionals, giving us insight into the skillsets and capabilities of the future workforce,” Bugajski said. “It also enables us to help guide students in the direction that internet technology is moving in the corporate world. As an alumnus of Behrend’s MIS program, the EIR partnership allows me to give back and share my professional experiences with students to enhance that same educational foundation that put me on a solid path early in my career.”

In other news, the MIS program is now offering python programming courses.

“Python is an interpreted, object-oriented, high-level programming language with dynamic semantics,” Noce said. “It can be easily used for on- and off-line projects, small and large, including web development, simple scripting, and data analysis. It’s the leading language of choice for most data scientists.”

Additionally, the MIS program is now offering MIS 417 Advanced Data Analysis, a course focused on extracting useful information out of vast stores of data, primarily using Python. “Big data” is useful to organizations if they can understand and learn from it, which is why businesses in nearly every sector are working to manage it, Noce said.