Students Charter Computer Science Cybersecurity Club to Gain Hands On Experience

John and Tapan, the leaders of the Cybersecurity Club by their project

The easiest way to get involved beyond the classroom at Rowan might be one of the most commonly overlooked — on campus clubs! Tapan Soni (from Voorhees, Camden County) and John Stranahan (from Cinnaminson, Burlington County) know this first hand, as they worked hard to charter the Cybersecurity Club at Rowan. The two senior computer science majors took their love of computer science and cybersecurity to new heights by working with peers and colleagues to get the club up and running, so that classmates with similar interests could unite and gain hands-on experience. 

a close up of a project done in the Cybersecurity club, as a research experiment on the many ways cyber attacks can happen.
One of the club’s current projects: a Supervisory Control and Data Aquisition Test Bed which is used to demonstrate real time cyber attacks. The SCADA Test Bed spreads cybersecurity awareness and allows the university to research ways to secure this non secure architecture.

Founded spring 2018, the Cybersecurity Club has grown tremendously over the past few months. Its primary goals for now are to help students earn resume experience, find internship and career opportunities and learn from others with more knowledge in the field.

“We have a mixture of novice and expert people in the club, so the knowledge trickles down. We learn from each other,” John says. As vice president, he’s watched the organization thrive in its early stages. Just this summer, two of its members attended the Cyber Cup Challenge in Alabama, competing against members of cybersecurity clubs throughout the nation with much longer histories on campus and more training time. They tied for third place — not an easy feat for a brand new club!a close up of a project done in the Cybersecurity club, as a research experiment on the many ways cyber attacks can happen.

Tapan and John name the group’s mentors and colleagues as a large factor in its success. They regularly have faculty members and role models in the field give lectures at the club, and with different levels of experience and knowledge, there is something for everyone to gain. “Everyone wants to learn different things, or do different things. We’re here to gain experience and knowledge and learn from each other,” club President Tapan says. One of their most recent guest speakers is a Lockheed Martin employee with over 10 years of experience in cybersecurity. “Just by being in the vicinity of a role model like that, you can learn and absorb so much.” 

John, left and Tapan, right sit at a desk with computers and discuss a project.
John and Tapan work on a project in the lab together.

Members of the Rowan Cybersecurity Club not only get hands-on access to exciting projects and resume experience, but form connections that can help them pave their career path! John says his leadership role in the club has led him to several opportunities that would have been hard to imagine before joining, including on-campus research and a classroom assistant position in the works. Tapan balances paid research and an internship, too. His advice to students looking for cool opportunities beyond the classroom? “Get to know your faculty. Learn about their interests, and if they align with yours, don’t be hesitant to reach out to them. You’d be surprised by how much they can teach you outside of class.”

A close up of a remote controlled robotWith about 45 active members, the club is always looking to expand. Members invite interested students to join this “no pressure” environment, regardless of their major or experience. Whether you choose to just observe and learn or dive into one of their many projects, the Cybersecurity Club encourages you to send them an email or follow them on Twitter for more information.

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Story and photography by: Nicole Cier, junior writing arts major