University of Advancing Technology is an elite, private college that serves its student body by fostering knowledge creation and academic excellence in an environment that embraces the young technophiles of the world. With three centers of research and a suite of technology-centered undergraduate and graduate degrees, the University is a recognized leader in technology education.
CanaryTrap, a technique by academics from the University of Iowa. Revolves around the concept of a honeytoken.
Honeytokens represent fake data, tokens, or files that IT peeps scatter across their network. When the data is tempered with the IT admins at the time can detect any malicious activity.
How it relates to CanaryTrap the honeytokens were unique email addresses that academics used to register Facebook accounts. (See where this is going?)
After registering an account, the researchers installed one of many Facebook apps, messed with it for 15 minutes after that they uninstalled the accounts.
Researchers monitored the honeytoken email inbox. If the inbox received any new emails, then there was third party data being shared.
The academic team reportedly tested about 1,024 Facebook apps using the CanaryToken technique. They have identified 16 apps that did share email addresses with third-parties.
With these 16 apps, only nine apps actually state they had a relationship with the email sender. The other seven apps did not state they shared user data with other parties.
CanaryTrap, research, and associated tools is all available on GitHub. "to help independent watchdogs detect misuse of data shared with third-party apps without needing cooperation from online social networks."
Facebook has sued several developers even changing its Terms of Service and making sure they have more power to enforce their rules.
Facebook is cooking up new terms to limit the information developers can share with third parties without receiving consent from users. To also make sure developers understand they must safeguard user data if they wish to use Facebook's platform and user-base for their own goals.
Personally I dislike Facebook due to how they made that big leak with their third-party which leaked millions upon millions of user's data for every thieving black hat to grab and sell on forums. At least knowing they are actively trying to prevent user data from being misuse helps my opinion on them.
Want to fight cyber criminals every day? Find out more about our cyber security degrees offered at https://www.uat.edu/cyber-security-degrees.
Ransomware: an emerging form of malware that locks the user out of their files or their device, then demands an anonymous online payment to restore access, according to malwarebytes.com/.
This very devious type of cyber attack is delivered by spam through unsolicited email, and now, the FBI is cautioning K-12 school districts to be prepared for an uptick in ransomware attacks.
At UAT, we recently received an FBI alert that hackers are currently targeting K-12 schools. Why schools? According to the FBI, schools are an opportunistic target as more are transitioning to distance learning. Provost Dr. David Bolman discussed this with Maria Hechanova of Arizona’s Family News.
“What ransomware attacks are trying to do is shut schools down, especially when they’re very busy, resources are stressed, and they’re getting ready to do things they’ve never done before,” explained Dr. Bolman. “Ransomware doesn’t actually care about the information, by and large they’re not trying to sell your information, they just know you need the info to function,” he said.
Dr. Bolman, UAT Provost
Clearly, that’s a big problem for all school districts. Those with data held for ransom may have to cancel classes or even close school for days. In fact, Flagstaff Unified School District was forced to close for two days last fall after its employees were targeted through their district email accounts, as reported by AZ Ed News.
So how does it work? Hackers appearing legitimate trick people into opening attachments or clicking on links in emails, or someone could be redirected from a valid site to a criminal server that collects data—without even interacting.
“Ransomware quietly collects your information and at some point in time, when they feel they have enough information that you value, they will lock your computer down and require you to use a very specific code that only they can provide to unlock your data and of course ask money for that, hence the ransom,” added Dr. Bolman.
Bolman added that all sizes of school districts are being targeted for different reasons, but mostly because faculty and staff are stretched thin, and it makes sense to be focused on curriculum and operational procedures than cyber security.
“What’s happening right now is all the K-12 schools are scrambling trying to figure out how they’re going to deliver their classes in a pandemic mode and that’s causing administrations to do a couple things: one, be a little distracted, two, they’re going to be using far more computers than they’ve ever used before and that’s a vulnerability.”
According to the FBI, school districts should never give into demands, because they’re not guaranteed to ever get their files back. The following actions are also suggested by the FBI:
If you do suspect your data is being collected, or a threat is made, don’t hesitate to contact the FBI at www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field, by phone at (855) 292-3937, or by email at CyWatch@fbi.gov. Stay vigilant!
Want to fight cyber criminals every day? Find out more about our cyber security degrees offered at https://www.uat.edu/cyber-security-degrees.
North Korea's hacking groups have decided to target online stores then decide to insert malicious code that steals customers' payment card details as they go through the checkout page and fill in the payment forms.
SanSec a Dutch security firm has been following these up in a report. They state these attacks have been occurring since May of 2019. The biggest name that has been hit was Claire's, reportedly was breached sometime from April to June of this year. The methods these State hackers have been using are web skimming which describes how the payment details are stolen at the payment page.
Hackers need to gain access to the target's back-end server. That's where they can install and run malicious code on the store's page that appears to use the customer. The code loads exclusively on the payment form page. Then silently logs payment card details as the customer is entering the info on checkout forms. The data is then logged to a remote server where the hackers collect and sell on forums.
These types of attacks are heavy on infrastructure and resources. SanSec reports the links used are the same domains and server IP addresses that have a connection to previous North Korean attacks in the past. The evidence given has SanSec believing these points to Hidden Cobra (or Lazarus Group), a name was given by the US Department of Homeland Security to Pyongyang's state hacking group.
These hackers have had a long list of cyber-heists all over the globe. With ATM heists and ATM cash-outs, Cryptocurrency scams, Breaching cryptocurrency exchanges, planning COVID-19 phishing campaigns. They were also blamed for the WannaCry ransomware which really shocked the IT world back in 2017.
Due to North Korea's hacking campaigns, in September 2019, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions entities that were believed they associated with the hacking groups. US officials believe these businesses are just fake to raise money for North Korea's own interests.
NK hacking group haven always been trying to raise money with their tactics. They will always be a bane in the IT world as they made their mark with WannaCry.
Want to fight cyber criminals every day? Find out more about our cyber security degrees offered at https://www.uat.edu/cyber-security-degrees.
At UAT, we are committed to helping our students find great employment and internships that match their skill sets. In fact, our Students Services team is actively working with companies who understand that although things may be different right now, we must still keep moving forward.
One such organization is Lights Camera Discover (LCD), a 501c3 nonprofit organization led by Executive Director Kema Charles, that provides underserved youth opportunities to develop confidence, build self-esteem, and learn teamwork through digital arts programs.
Kema Charles, Executive Director and Founder of Lights Camera Discover works with students on filmmaking and animation basics.
In addition to working with Student Services to match students with the needs of their nonprofit, Lights Camera Discover also works with Crystal Onyema, a National Admissions Representative at UAT. "I’ve known Kema Charles for seven years," said Crystal. "We randomly met at an old job and connected from day one! I have now been on the Board for the past five years. Before that, I taught screenwriting and helped run the bootcamps."
Crystal Onyema, a National Admissions Representative at UAT, is a Board member and volunteer at Lights Camera Discover.
Crystal says that thanks to Kema, LCD is really on the upswing. "Kema has taken the nonprofit to several other cities but still calls the Phoenix area its home," she said. "Dozens of successful workshops have been carried out and students spend time creating, shooting and editing their own films/animations. Kids who initially come in shy, withdrawn or with a defense mechanism are seen to gain confidence, and break out of their shell. For some, it is the first time being asked to be a part of a team, have responsibilities to carry out tasks. Some of the subject matter focuses in on self-confidence, social awareness and anti-bullying."
We had a chance to ask Kema to share more about LCD and how the organization works with our students.
Lights Camera Discover (LCD) was built on a simple foundation; to effectively break the circle of generational poverty, you must equip the next generation with education in careers that are “in demand”. Our mission is to provide free, accessible and effective Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) programming leading to secondary education and then to STEAM careers where the goal is closing the circle in generational poverty.
We develop in our students a sense of pride, self-worth, strength and appreciation of community commitment through performance and digital arts. Lights Camera Discover will be one of the catalysts to infuse a cooperative spirit that will bring forth the creativity of oneself.
We were a part of a work study program with another school. When they closed, some of the students we worked with ended up enrolling at UAT, and it was the first time I had information on the school and reached out to form a partnership.
As part of our efforts to give youth a voice through the media arts, Lights Camera Discover offers an on-going program to train local youth in digital storytelling and animation productions. Lights Camera Discover is an award-winning program in which students learn filmmaking and animation basics alongside anti-bullying and social awareness.
A key component of our program, and a core value is engagement, community engagement. Whether it's donating, volunteering or creating awareness, community engagement is critical to our success. We have a financial need to market and hire professionals for roles that we need, a dedicated resource, and as of now we have commitments from volunteers to serve those roles. In some instances, the parents don’t have time or capacity to be actively involved for a variety of reasons. Our volunteers come on and ensure each child knows they have support. We firmly believe each child is one caring adult away from success and we take pride in knowing that we can be the caring adults. Funding can help us recruit, train and retain those volunteers that take pride in making an impact.
UAT students are used as instructors or instructor assistants for our youth programs.
I would like to start bringing youth in our program on tours to the school to show them that there is a place locally to further their education. Our goal is to scholarship students to attend UAT when we build funds for that.
We have held back on programs for the remainder of 2020 so that we can facilitate our programs in the safest way possible. We will be making our class sizes smaller and have sanitizing stations and socially distant desk for the students.
The world of technology is ever rapidly changing, and in order to prepare our youth, we have to be able to expose them to tomorrow's trends and technology today. Working with UAT allows us to secure the best training for our youth. Our approach to incorporating student teachers makes sure we are focused on both trendy and current, relevant content and will provide strong foundational skills needed for success.
Partnerships are vital to ensuring we are reaching not only underprivileged youth, but also allowing all youth across Phoenix a chance to turn their imaginations into opportunity.
At UAT, we are grateful for parners like Kema, and we are excited to watch her organization grow and make a difference. According to Crystal, "The nonprofit has started to gain widespread attention, gaining community service awards and partnerships with the Phoenix Suns, NBC 12, South by Southwest, and several other organizations. Interns would greatly benefit from hands on experience, both on the technological and entrepreneurship side. Having a hand in making a huge difference in children’s lives is the cherry on top!"
Want to find out more about opportunities for UAT students? Email email@example.com or call 480-351-7876. Whether you are a student looking for a placement, or an organization that would like to hire interns or employees, our team will do their best to match the right students with the right positions. The future is now!
Recently, I sat down (Zoomed, rather) with UAT alum and network security badass Terra Cooke. She is an epic presence—worldly, thoughtful and brings vibes of power and leadership to any situation she walks into.
Being an employee of Terra’s alma mater, I asked her what she thinks a university’s role is when it comes to race relations and the promotion of the Black and POC communities.
Terra explained that race relationships with schools, especially colleges and universities, can get complicated because they tend to seek ways to reach these communities for the sake of their enrollment and demographic balance, but they are typically blind in how to actually support these communities beyond just talking at them.
“Some of these kids don’t even know if they’re going to college. They don’t know the college options that are available to them. You can’t just [make your statements and put yourself out there and] expect it to fall on the people of color to come to you; that’s not fair and that’s not how this works.”
We also discussed the importance of colleges and universities reaching deep into the Black and POC communities, contributing to and participating with the organizations that support them—taking action that ensures they really see a value in your institution and feel an opportunity for their future in both education and beyond into the workforce.
“For the younger folks, especially if you are the first in your family to go into corporate America, there’s no handbook for you to go into college, and no handbook for you to go into corporate America, and that’s okay. You’re going to get a lot of advice that’s going to feel like a conflict to who you are as a person, and it’s okay to push the buck on that…and it’s okay to go elsewhere.”
In addition, Terra says it’s also okay to just power through, and that young Black people entering corporate America should know that others did it, and were successful, before them.
“I [worked] a lot of places where this happened, and I put up with it to get by and I am not ashamed of that. Know that those of us who went through that—we’re now here trying to create the space for you.
I remember when I was starting my career, one of the first things I felt compelled to do was find a Black person in a position of power, and then find any other Black people I could. We got told to not shake the boat. We got told if we show up and aren’t ghetto or ratchet and we annunciate and don’t use Ebonics, then somehow we’ll be more respected and we’ll ascend the ranks….and that’s just not true. Respectability politics aren’t a thing.
Philando [Castile] did exactly what he was supposed to do, and he still got killed. Breonna Taylor was sleeping in her house and she got killed. What’s more respectable than sleeping in your own house?
I don’t hold it against the older generation who preaches that—it was like that for them. It’s like that now to a certain degree, but I refuse to play into that narrative anymore. I drive into my job Black as hell every day. I don’t mince words; I speak my mind. I am aware there is a time and place for certain thoughts and feelings, but if I lose my job, I lose my job.
There is no right way to be black in corporate America, so the best thing you can do is be yourself.
The older generations have to let go of a lot of their biases of the world as a whole. It’s not how it was when you graduated college. The world is different, and the world is more expensive. All we want is enough money just to literally live comfortably—and it’s always been like we’ve been demonized for wanting that—and I don’t understand that. But I guess self- awareness is common sense and not everyone has that.”
Terra and I then discussed genuine activism and the current protests in response to the recent instances of police brutality.
“When it comes to race relations and police brutality, activism looks different for every person. Not every person is going to feel okay going to protest. I don’t go because I have social anxiety and the thought of going to one increases it. But that doesn’t mean I’m any less active. I am very active in spaces that I am comfortable.
Regardless though, just posting on social media is not enough, across the board.
There’s no one here to hold you accountable if you’re just posting to check the box, ‘look at me I’m doing the right thing.’ But your conscience will hold you accountable, and I hope people realize that. Being Black isn’t a social media thing for me. I live it. I don’t get to come home and take my skin off. I’m scared to leave my house after dark because of the police.
It’s fine to have mixed feelings about this. That’s valid. It’s not up to us to manage other people’s feelings right now. If people get mad and don’t want to talk about it, that’s valid. It’s not up to you to manage that. We have a long road ahead of us because this system was built 400 years ago. It feels like we’re in a second state civil war—a second iteration of the Civil Rights Movement.”
Because the road is long, and the history is deep, Terra made her final point one regarding our responsibility moving forward.
“To schools and companies—when this tapers down, don’t let the conversation stop. I hold companies and schools accountable; if you are one-and-done, I will do my damndest to never give you my business again. That’s not fair. You are pandering to the Black community; you are profiting off our pain, and we watch. So don’t let the conversation stop.
We won’t, Terra. Thank you.
Terra is a a seasoned, passionate professional in IT advisory and consulting services centered around security governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) and internal control assurance processes and procedures.
I think it’s safe to say that the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” has been overdone, and then some. But after looking at the photos from our latest near-space Mission 5, I simply cannot find the words to describe what the students have accomplished.
Mission 5 is the latest in a series of high altitude balloon launches for our UAT Space program, a student-driven endeavor with two key goals: Allow UAT students the opportunity to plan, develop, test, break, fix, improve, and launch aerospace hardware into the stratosphere; and to work with K-12 STEAM programs and host their science experiments on the UAT Space payloads. The program has been running now for over two years, and the amount of innovation driven from the students has been extraordinary.
Flight computers designed from the PCB up, our own all-weather camera systems, over ten sensors for capturing performance/atmosphere throughout the mission, and specialized payloads designed to insulate and handle the -50 F degree temperatures, along with 200 mph winds of the stratosphere.
And though the mission and scientific data we’ve collected is a treasure trove, it’s hard to beat the unreal images of a UAT student project near the edge of space, capturing the awesomeness of our planet, and showing just how much our students can achieve. I’m so proud of each of them, and so blessed to have been a part of this adventure.
Special thanks to the leaders of the program over the missions, including Brandon Michelson, Bailey Nielson, Ricky Martinez, Roberto Perry, Garren Koller, Brandon Nay, and Jacob Dominski.
UAT’s academic majors focus on expanding, new and rising technology such as the Advancing Computer Science degree, Cyber Security degree, Digital Maker and Fabrication degree and Robotics and Embedded Systems degree. This technology College has the status of being among a select few 100 percent STEM-based universities in the nation.
Considering the unrest and outpouring of anger currently sweeping the nation over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, I would like to remind my fellow employees of the injustices that persist in our society today. We must view this time as a searing reminder that there is still much to be done, to combat inequality in the hopes of a better and brighter future for generations to come. While there are no simple solutions to magically make the hurt and pain disappear, we must endeavor to use this extraordinarily painful time as the turning point on this important issue.
Biases remain in this society as a biproduct of years of injustices perpetuated against people of color. UAT has stood on the front lines ensuring equality for all students and staff, while enabling a sterile and safe learning environment for all who walk through these doors and beyond. UAT is an organization that champions diversity and inclusion and that is reflected through its students, faculty, and staff. Classes taught highlight the contribution of African Americans in our society, so students get a cornucopia of ideas of African American contributions to society.
As Lyndon N. Johnson stated in 1965, and I quote “It is our duty – and it is our desire – to open our hearts to humanity’s cry for help. It is our obligation to seek to understand what could lie beneath the flames that scarred that great city. So, let us equip the poor and the oppressed – let us equip them for the long march to dignity and to wellbeing. But let us never confuse the need for decent work and fair treatment with an excuse to destroy and to uproot (Johnson 1965)”.
As a nation, we need to come together and face the ugly past that is so rightfully behind us. We need to smite it whenever and wherever it raises its ugly head. We need to hold those in charge accountable when they violate the very trust that has been entrusted to them. It will not happen overnight, but for this wound to heal, we need to dress it and nurse it back to health. We need to hold each other accountable and not be afraid to stand up for what is right, even when that means you are standing alone.
Did you know telescopes are time machines? Not actually, as cool as that would be, but they DO look at the past. The way a telescope works is that light from a celestial object is gathered and magnified into an eyepiece that you then look into. That light had to travel from the object, all the way across space, then to your eye.
To our knowledge, nothing can travel faster than light; however, it is not instant. And space is quite large. The term light year is often used to describe the distance between many space objects. A light year is the distance light is able to travel in one year. It is the same as thinking in miles per hour but on a much larger scale. One light year is 5,878,625,373,183 miles.
If we were to look at the nearest star to our solar system, Proxima Centauri, we would be looking at a star 4.3 light years away. The light that we see is 4.3 years old by the time it reaches us. We are seeing 2016 Proxima Centauri. And that is something that is “close” to us. The Eagle Nebula, more commonly the Pillars of Creation, is 7000 light years away. That would be like looking at Earth 5000 BCE, about the time of early development of Mesopotamia. One step further, the Andromeda Galaxy, is the nearest galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Andromeda is 2.5 million light years away, and if you are in a dark enough place you can see it with only your eyes, no telescope required. This is the time that the early hominins, homo habilis, had evolved. The earliest homo sapiens are dated back around 300 thousand years ago.
When we look through a telescope, we are seeing the objects as they were sometimes millions of years ago. Some of the light that is hitting our eyes left its home before the first use of controlled fire, estimated at 1.7 million years ago.
UAT is passionate about space, in fact, Professor Nathan Eskue is an excellent resource for space enthusiasts, with 20 years of aerospace/defense industry experience, including work for NASA, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman.
Find out more about Professor Eskue and the rest of UAT's distinguished faculty at https://www.uat.edu/featured-technology-university-faculty.
NASA/JPL/California Institute of Technology
NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
When students leave UAT, they typically aren't heading out to search for an entry-level opportunity. Our grads have invested their time here creating and innovating (on their own and through internships) to such a degree that a great job or entrepreneurship venture is a natural next step.
Such is true for Randall Tatum, UAT alumni and Founder & CEO of Titanomachy Studios, LLC. Randall is an excellent example of how our students take what they learn and really go for it in the "real world". With a Bachelor’s of Art Game Design as well as a Master of Science in Production Management, Randall is not only achieving his dream, he is also helping others by advocating for independent developers in the game industry.
Randall Tatum, CEO of Titanomachy Studios
We caught up with Randall to ask what it's like owning his gaming company, plus to find out why he feels getting an education in an often do-it-yourself field helped him get to where he is now.
Titanomachy Studios is a fully remote indie studio based out of Avondale, AZ and Stroudsburg, PA but with a team from around the globe. We are made up of people from all walks of life and backgrounds from Canadian pixel artists to English writers to UAT alumni programmers. We focus on creating game development. Our focuses are creating our own titles, like the upcoming SRPG, Condors Vs Ocelots, and Indie Publishing. We strive to make games that are fun and memorable experiences for everyone.
Titanomachy Studios has a very diverse team from all walks of life and experiences. From the top: Ben S. – Web Developer; Tyler S. – Programming Lead; Tyler T. – Programming; Garrett H. – Programming; Merlin C. – Programming; Hunter D. – Programming; Michael M. – Art Lead; Alethea H. – Artist; Peter G. – Artist; Yoorina S. – Artist; Ibrahim A. – Writer; Max S. – Assoc. Producer/Game Design; Jeremiah B. – Level Design; Colt B. – Level Design; Box Monkey Studios – Audio and SFX; Wayne D. – Finance/Legal; Randall T. – Project Lead/Producer
Hunter Derrick, Programmer at Titanomachy Studios
My education has simply enabled me to not only think in new ways, but also to give me a baseline on how things should or should not go based on my resources and effort. I used my degree to work in the field, but it wasn’t until I pursued my Master’s at UAT that I began to think about disrupting markets and being an entrepreneur and really just making my own path instead of following others. If it was not for the things I learned in my education, I would have been sorely prepared and educated on how to start and operate a business.
I think that, an education is important for many reasons. Obviously the technical instruction in your desired field is possible, but more than that, learning new ways to think about and solve problems and situations has helped me immensely. Videogames, like any other technical field, is just that--technical. Having an education not only facilitates learning new ways of thinking, but it also instructs on at the very least the basics, so that doing your own skill polishing and “leveling up” is possible.
A degree in the game industry is important for the same reasons a degree in the medical field is necessary. Not to say that making video games is on par with saving lives; however, I certainly wouldn’t hire a career plumber to be my lead game designer when his education is in plumbing. It applies here. When I interview people to work with us at Titanomachy, a degree doesn’t get you the job. Merit does, however, when two applicants are equal, the game degree wins out in most cases. I know that that person is instructed and SHOULD know what I’m saying when I say it.
If you have a dream, follow it. No one is waiting for you to pursue them so follow your heart and use your head to navigate. Otherwise, stay organized. School is hard work and preparedness cannot be underrated.
Your portfolio is the single most useful thing you can offer any place you apply to. Make it big, make it varied and make it good.
Five years ago, we released our first ever title, Stacker. It was an abysmal mess of spaghetti code and disorganization. It was also the proudest moment of my career, because I had a dream, I took the steps, and I achieved it. That feeling is irreplaceable.
I had a dream, I took the steps, and I achieved it. That feeling is irreplaceable.
We started out remote, if for no other reason than to keep our overhead costs down. There are a lot of learning curves and communication barriers that are easy to forget, but critical issues arise from them often. There was a learning curve that I think would give most people a shiver or two, but after 5 years, when Covid came around, we were ready to stay safe, healthy and developing.
Michael Monchamp, ORU lead sprite artist at Titanomachy Studios
I am biased here because I think Condors Vs Ocelots is my favorite, but I have been enjoying Terraria, Legends of Runeterra, and Valorant.
I think what I look for the most in games is a compelling story and interesting mechanics. I come for the narrative, but stay for the awesome gameplay.
Thank you Randall for your inspirational words! If you are a student or alumi and would like to share more about your experience, comment and let us know!
Want to know more about our Game Studies Degrees? Learn more about our options below, and ask us any questions you have about UAT!
As phased reopening of businesses has begun in Arizona and across the country, it would be easy to relax and let your guard down at home and on your phone, with daily work and school getting back to business. But since much of our lives have transitioned to online, it’s important to remember that hackers attack when we least expect it, and now’s the time to make sure you remain cyber safe!
Email fraud is definitely a big concern, as hackers prey on us all getting comfortable. It's easier for hackers to gain access to business accounts when employees are working from home using their personal home computers and don't update their virus and malware security systems on a regular basis. In fact, business owners who have employees working from home on their own computers should assume those home computers are not safe. According to UAT President Jason Pistillo, companies can make sure they have spam filters set up appropriately, but they've got to “watch that like a hawk.”
"Many people aren't good about updating their home computers," he said. "Home computers get infected and that propagates up to the corporate network.”
In fact, email scammers even came after UAT!
It began with an email from a vendor seeking a valid payment, but when the accounting department responded to that original email, a hacker intercepted it and requested that the money be paid electronically to the hacker's account.
Our accounting department noticed something was wrong because the reply address converted to a new email with only a single different letter. "This was sneaky,” Pistillo said. “What they're doing is hijacking the requests as they go out. I don't know if anybody else would have caught it. Our accounting department is savvy. After all, they're around a bunch of hackers all day long."
Check out the full story from 12 News (the Phoenix NBC affiliate):
And from the Phoenix Business Journal:
Valley university sniffs out cyberscam before damage done.
But don’t worry, there are several ways you can be vigilant and help protect yourself.
Tom Tardy, Network Security professor at UAT, offers the following advice if you are the end-user of an email that you want to make sure is secure.
Tom Tardy Gives a Presentation About the UAT Cyber Program
1. Hover over links to see where they go, but don’t click them.
2. Make sure when you hit reply the email address is the same as the original.
3. Check your Junk Email Settings
(In Outlook, Home>Delete group>Junk>Junk email options).
a. Go to ‘adjust settings’ under each tab.
b. Block TLDs (Top Level Domains) from countries.
Emails should only be coming from a .com, .org, etc.; NOT a .cn or .ru.
c. Install Microsoft Junk E-mail Reporting Add-in (for personal email).
d. Install spam reporting Add-in (for corporate email).
There is also a common phishing attack on organizations that use Office 365 and comes in the form of a file being shared to the user. The fake file goes to a real login page, where now—as a new trend—it then prompts the user to authorize a new application. From there it can access anything that user can access.
If you see a box like this, stop and think before you give any access. You should not need to give permission to see your contacts, emails, and other data just to open a simple file.
Jacy Smith, Business Development Specialist for Perimeter83, explains that it’s equally important to keep the account where your domain name is registered safer than usual. The Domain Name System (DNS) controls all the information where domain names send traffic to, plus controls email settings and some security information. For example, Smith says, “Many people buy a domain name for their business from a place like Go Daddy. Once they purchase the domain name, DNS is used to tell the domain where the website will be hosted (A record), where the email is hosted (MX records) and other records required to use certain services (like Office365).” Smith continues, “If a hacker were to get access to the Go Daddy account, they could alter the DNS of a domain to redirect to a malicious site, tamper with email services or decrypt encrypted web traffic.”
UAT Cyber Students Work in the Cyber Cave
She suggests the following DNS safety tips:⇒ Take a look at the DNS records for domain names to make sure all of the records are current, accurate and appropriate for the services you or your company are using.
There’s always something/someone new out there, sneakier and hell-bent on hacking even through even the best attempts at safety. If you do get hacked, here are some ideas to help before taking it to an IT expert.⇒ Disconnect from the internet.
Even President Pistillo knows that hackers are smart and always lurking. “I've been doing this for 25 years, so it's not often that I'm surprised," he said. But that’s because he’s always looking, and you should be, too. Keeping your computer updated and anti-virus definitions current is just a very small piece of the cyber security picture, because the biggest vulnerability is human error. Keep your eyes open and stay cyber safe. The image of a guy in a hoodie in a dark basement is an old one… the girl next door or an average guy across the globe may be watching you right now!
Want a quick, helpful cyber security presention?
June 3, 2020, at 11am MST, join us for Technically Speaking: Don't Be Baited! Tips to Spot Phishing with Aaron Jones, Arizona Threat Liaison Officer and UAT adjuct faculty member.
Listen to learn why threat actors conduct phishing operations, how they are conducted, and how to spot phishing. Jones will discuss simple methods to protect yourself, as well as some of the tools you can employ to reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
Our cyber security degree programs and cyber security lab are recognized by industry and government entities alike for their ability to help generate the future innovators of the cyber security industry. We focus on creating true leaders who will have mastery in ethical hacking and uphold the highest industry standard of integrity in our quickly evolving world of cyber security tech and online security.
Visit https://www.uat.edu/cyber-security-degrees for more.
With recent events this year, I have been spending a lot of time at home; however, I have not felt a lack of friendship. While we haven’t been able to all be together, my friends and I have still been spending time virtually playing games together. Some free games, I might add.
Did you know that you can play cards against humanity online? At PYX 1 you can play it for free! With the ability to add card packs, you can play with more than just the standard set of cards. Recently my friends and I have been using discords voice chats to all talk while playing, and while it may not be the exact same, we still have a blast. If you are interested in other card games, playingcards.io has several that would work the same way as Cards Against Humanity.
Another fun set of games to play with a bunch of people is Jackbox. It takes a bit more coordination, but they can be a lot of fun. Jackbox is a set of games that range between trivia (Trivia Murder Party), art (Bidiots), and wit (Fibbage). With 6 packs currently, each containing several games, a group can play for hours. The games are played on a console or computer with everyone having either a phone or computer with internet. The games start and you go to Jackbox.tv and enter in the room code to play. Typically, everyone would be together to play Jackbox, but there are some work arounds. To play virtually it is best to have the games on a computer. Everyone needs to be in a ground chat such as zoom or discord. And whoever has the computer with Jackbox is going to share their screen. From there everyone can play and have fun. Jackbox frequently has sales too, so if you keep an eye out you can gather all six packs for a pretty decent price.
What ways have you found to have fun while apart? Share them in the comments, and lets have some virtual fun!
Today I picked up my son’s belongings from his elementary school. I couldn’t go in, and I couldn’t take him to say farewell to anyone. Instead, I brought him home a yearbook of friends he hasn’t seen since March, as well as folders of “work in progress” from two months ago—I didn’t even know he had started working on cursive!
To be frank—this situation sucks.
But it could be worse. My son could be one of the many students graduating this year without any pomp or circumstance. I got a taste what that would be like when I attended a drive through graduation celebration in my neighborhood last week. Although it was a joy to witness the decorated cars as they passed by, there was still a sadness in the parents who watched, having recently viewing their hard-working teens graduate by video rather than cheering them on as they walked the stage and into their future.
And for those that graduated college this way? I cannot even imagine. Years of work and late nights should be celebrated with as much noise as possible. A degree is no small feat, and fortunately for our students, we will still be celebrating them this September—in person—at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts.
And now, more good news is here! Our re-opening plan has begun. In fact, students can expect to see some on-campus classes resume in person as early as June 15, 2020.
It is our intent that, barring any change in directives by health authorities, we’re planning for on-campus classes and services to have resumed by the start of our fall semester, September 7, 2020. But until then, all on-campus courses will retain a virtual component so students who are unable to or don’t feel safe returning to campus early, can choose to continue attending virtually without any interruption to their summer semester.
For now, we asked some our own UAT parents how the end of the school year turned out for them and their children. Here’s what they had to say:
Brandi Beals, Dean of Students and Academic Operations
The end of the school year has been rather monotonous for all of my girls. There were no classroom celebrations, even none virtually for them to participate in. Their end of year projects and presentations were just videos compiled into one large video by the instructors rather than live presentations to showcase their skills and accomplishments. They missed out on looking at their yearbooks with each other—laughing, joking, and reminiscing on the school year is far different virtually than in person.
My 17-year-old says that her communication with her instructors improved in the remote facilitation because she did not have her friends or other classmates competing for 1:1 time with the teacher. It was easier to send an email or request a MS Teams meeting and clarity on items in a more efficient manner because other distractions were removed. She is anxious for fall when school resumes and hopes that she will not have to start her senior year in a remote facilitation. Her summer internship has been negatively altered so she is nervous for what the future holds as she embarks on one of the most important years of her school life.
Fortunately, my 13-year-old is an introvert and says that while the end of the year was rather uneventful, she was able to stay more focused and could handle the stress of her work load a lot better at home. She says her stress levels were much more manageable.
Brandi and her daughters
Erin Eichhorst, UAT Enrollment Advisor
My son's end of year wasn't too bad. Our teachers had live sessions every day, so he still had the chance to see his friends and work in a team environment. The assignments were pretty manageable and there were recorded lectures we could watch. My son learned a lot about time management and being self-sufficient. He also learned more about being accountable and managing his responsibilities. The downside was the lack of social interaction. Although he could see and talk to his friends, it wasn't the same as celebrating as they leave the 6th grade. The best part of this experience was when all three of his teachers showed up at our door yesterday to say goodbye. (They did this for every student in their classes.) It was very thoughtful and bittersweet but also gave my son the chance to thank them and tell them what an impact they made on him this year.
Erin's son and his teachers
Tyler Walling, Client Systems Admin
School wraps up this week for my kids, and it's been really just busy work for them the last three days with less virtual meetings than previously. Both boys started to really adjust to school from home three weeks into it all. The stress seemed to be better as they FINALLY acclimated to the situation. According to both of my kids’ teachers, very few students are participating anymore so the end of the school yeah is rather anti-climatic. We're going to try and do a celebration for both being promoted to the next grade with family members viewing online. My littlest was pretty bummed not to get a kindergarten graduation as he remembers his brother's.
In my own home, we only have one child, and that has proved to make things pretty lonely for him. My son was new to his school and doesn’t know many people yet, so the drastic change to home was even harder. We take it day by day, and sometimes simply hour by hour. Fortunately, we’ve had a lot of support from UAT, and my son’s teacher has gone above and beyond, holding Zoom meetings regularly that combined learning and fun—one day was even devoted to playing Jeopardy! School has ended now, and that presents new challenges to keep him busy while we continue to work from home. But every day we remind him that we’re still healthy, with beautiful Arizona giving us plenty to enjoy daily, and that’s something to celebrate.
Lisha's son Josh
So to our students and parents feeling the strain, we’re all feeling it too! There’s no point in denying that, but the good news, there’s STILL GOOD NEWS. We’re proud of all of you who’ve stuck it out, and for those that needed a break—we understand. We cannot wait to see your faces on campus again and tell you how proud we are. Until then, here are some things we’ve put together.
Check out these words of advice from our wonderful professors:
And our graduation flip book:
Parents—thanks to you stepping in and doing more than you ever imagined for your high school and college aged children. Students—thanks for your continued perseverance and ability to roll with the punches. Over the next few weeks, we will continue to provide updates regarding specific details, and plans regarding the safety and sanitation precautions UAT is taking. We anticipate seeing you get started on new and exciting projects, plus checking out what you’ve done from home. There’s a lot to look forward to at UAT!
See you soon.
By Dr. Mark Bowles
When UAT recently asked me to share an article about one of my passions, I immediately knew I wanted to write about yoga. Over the past five years, my daily yoga practice has provided numerous mental and physical benefits for my 53-year-old mind and body. But I also wanted to write an article that everyone could relate to, and not all of us have a yoga mat and yoga blocks strewn about their office. There is one current event that is uniting the globe in a devastating shared experience right now—the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus the theme of my article, “The Yogi in the Pandemic.”
That presented the question: What does someone who practices yoga do in a pandemic? Is that even an important question to ask?
To begin my response, we must journey into the past. We are going to start with a topic that seems entirely unrelated—the National Football League.
A little over a year ago, I was putting the finishing touches on my book entitled The First NFL Season: 1920. I knew that in 2020 the NFL was going to be celebrating 100 years of existence, and remarkably no one had written a book that focused entirely on that first season. Of course, colleges had been playing football games for 50 years. There were also professional teams too, but these were a haphazard collection of local teams without an organization to create a league playing by the same rules.
In the summer of 1920, a few football visionaries met at a local car dealership in Canton, Ohio. Sitting on car running boards and drinking beers, they laid the groundwork for the NFL that we know today. If you watched any NFL games last season, you would have seen the 100NFL logo marking the centennial everywhere, from player uniforms to the fields. You can read more about my book at www.100NFL.com.
In writing the book, I also researched the years leading up to the first season in 1920. The two preceding years were one of the most deadly, chaotic, and frightening periods in all American history. World War I was ending and many families were coping with the loss of 114,000 American men and women in the trenches and battles throughout Europe.
Beyond the global atrocities of a world war, it was a remarkably challenging era. In the United States, there were terrorist attacks, police strikes, race riots, the coming of prohibition, women fighting for the right to vote, and even a baseball World Series cheating scandal. But, one thing overshadowed all of these events in terms of death—the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.
It seemed no one’s life was safe, and as pandemic swept through the nation, it killed over 600,000 Americans and an estimated 50 million people worldwide. In other words, the flu killed nearly six times as many Americans as World War I.
In an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, much of the nation shut down, including athletic contests. Immediately after the start of the 1918 season, an Akron, Ohio newspaper reported that the “epidemic [was] taking the spotlight immediately after the opener. Scores of other local teams are also awaiting the word which will allow them to resume activities on the grid” (Akron Evening Times, November 12, 1918, p. 8). Most of the teams were from Ohio, and the state board of health took quick action and banned all athletic contests and any activities attracting a crowd.
As I read this in 2019, it seemed unbelievable to have a health concern so devastating that state officials had to step in and cancel all sporting events. I tried to imagine what it was like to walk around seeing people in creepy facemasks seemingly afraid to get haircuts or go grocery shopping. One reporter from the Los Angeles Times lamented the “depression of closed theaters and other places of amusement, closed churches and assembly halls, facemasks… [and] people who have been staying closely at home for weeks” (Los Angeles Times, December 3, 1918, p. 19).
College campuses closed too. In Detroit, one reporter described life on campus during the pandemic: “the once frivolous co-ed walked through the campus with ‘eyes front’ and her exquisite profile quite covered with an unsightly face-mask. Many a nose… went unpowdered, many a cheek unrouged” (Detroit Free Press, November 10, 1918, p. 33).
“Wear a Mask and Save your Life,” was the heading of a full-page advertisement in the San Francisco newspapers (Long Beach Press, October 24, 1918, p. 12).
News clip provided by Dr. Bowles
It all seemed so unreal to consider stopping modern life in its tracks with canceled athletic seasons, closed movie theaters, suspended college classes, and facemasks everywhere. It sounded like the dystopian visions portrayed in zombie apocalypses on TV and the movies.
News clip provided by Dr. Bowles
The one thing I could imagine was a strong national response. In 1918 the War Department asked the chapters of the American Red Cross to “undertake immediately a nation-wide survey of the nursing resources.” One key area that needed attention was “face-masks—which have been made for use very quickly” (Bethel Vermont Courier, October 24, 1918, p. 6).
News clip provided by Dr. Bowles
And so fast-forwarding to 2020, what seemed like experiences so incomprehensible to me a few months earlier, became my life (and yours too) living with our pandemic. History, as it often does, was repeating itself.
As a historian, I like to think that there are lessons that we can learn from the past. While we live in very different political, social, scientific, technological, and medical worlds now than those who lived through the Spanish Flu in 1918, there are still important lessons.
News clip provided by Dr. Bowles
Consider the guidance from “Coach Lewis,” who taught in a Philadelphia high school in 1918. He proudly proclaimed that every day he put students through what he called his “anti-flu exercises.” He believed the exercises worked because, “No one is sick on the football squad. The boys work too hard and take their physical exercise drills so they won’t be sick” (Philadelphia Inquirer, October 4, 1918, p. 12).
While we know today that exercise is not a vaccine for pandemics, it is as vital in 2020 as it was in 1918 for helping us cope with the physical and mental stress and uncertainty of an incurable virus.
And there is one other piece of advice from the past. In November 1918, a Nebraska reporter published an article entitled “Exercises Against Influenza.” The author focused on the importance of breathing for good health, and simply said, “breath is life.” The problem was that most people only used a small portion of their lungs to breathe. The author compared this shallow breathing to a “two-cylinder man when be might just as well be a six-cylinder man.” The author then proceeded to provide several deep breathing techniques to empower the body and calm the mind (Lincoln Journal Star, November 19, 1918, p. 11).
This focus on the breath and the breathing techniques should sound familiar to anyone who has taken a yoga class today. Jeanne Heiliman wrote an article for Yoga International called “Why Breath Matters,” and the similarities to the Nebraska article from 1918 are very evident. She also began by stating that most people do not breathe into the entire body or completely expand the lungs. She then went through the various breathing techniques (sama vritti, ujjayi, etc.), which the modern yogini guides her students through to revitalize and harmonize the breath, body, and mind.
Many lessons of the past resonate with our present moment. Perhaps the simplest is to breathe and do yoga.
I speak from experience, but not expertise. Though I am not a yoga teacher, I never skip my daily journey on my well-worn yoga mat. I practice a variety of types of yoga from the comfort of my home through online classes at AloMoves. Preferred styles include vinyasa with Ashley Galvin, barre with Adrienne Kimberley, and yin and restorative yoga with Meghan Currie. I breathe deeply and expand my lungs, and also sweat through some very demanding practices that might even please Coach Lewis.
While I know that yoga in no way makes me immune to the COVID-19 virus, consider how Dr. Aileen Fullchange answers the following question, “Why Do Yoga During a Pandemic?” She replied that yoga focuses on breath and bodily awareness. Most importantly, she said, “mindfulness is like a vaccine for contagious emotions.”
While this is a powerful thought, I would also like to suggest that there is another important reason for doing yoga during a pandemic. Yoga has the power to unite us in unique ways, even when we are socially distanced.
• Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces.
• 785 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 144 million people who are dependent on surface water.
• Contaminated water can transmit diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio. Contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause 485,000 diarrhoeal deaths each year.
Scene from Africa
Global crises like this do not vanish in times of a pandemic. They often intensify. As you know, one main message to all of us in the United States today is to wash our hands to prevent the spread of the virus. Imagine if you were one of the 785 million people who did not even have water to drink. For them, hand washing is an unattainable luxury.
Scene from Africa
Here is where yoga comes in. It can not only help us individually weather the storms of a global virus, it can also motivate us to come together to raise money to combat global issues, like the water crisis.
How can we do this?
Indulge me in one final tangent.
In 2015 I co-authored a book with Katie Spotz entitled Just Keep Rowing. Our book described Katie’s world record 70-day solo row across the Atlantic Ocean (from Africa to South America). She attempted this not only to become the youngest person ever to row across an ocean but also to raise awareness and funding towards the global water crisis. Over the past decade, she has raised more than $400,000 for global water projects.
Athlete and author Kaie Spotz
She is now serving in the Coast Guard, stationed in Maine, and recently came up with a plan to hold an online charity yoga event, with 100 percent of the donations raised going towards a clean water project in Africa on behalf of Lifewater International.
I have been helping Katie organize the event called “Yoga for Water.” The motto is “Be a Hero. Stay Home. Do Yoga.” We will all be on our home mats while our technologically mediated yoga will unite us for fellowship, breath, and contributions to help those without the most basic need of clean drinking water and sanitation. It will take place on May 14th from 6 to 7:15PM EST (3:00PM MST), and yoga instructor Kat Cynewski will lead the class. The event is free, though donations are accepted. If you are interested, please join us on the mat by signing up here.
Yoga instructor Kat Cynewski
And so my final message from a humble yogi in a pandemic.
With yoga, we can find personal healing, overcome social distancing, and also confront global crises impacting our planet today, from pandemics to a lack of clean drinking water.
Read more about Lifewater at https://lifewater.org.
This AI application can recognize and give you the approximate age and gender of a person just like humans can. Plus, what makes this AI program really cool is that it can also tell a person's emotions by facial expressions as they change in real-time—just like a human would.
We talked with his course instructor, Professor Tony Hinton, and interviewed Samael to find out more about him and his innovative project.
I always found the topic of AI interesting, even as a child. But I never really wanted to be involved in it. I figured it would be too complicated and time-consuming. But during my time at UAT I ended taking an AI class as a filler class, just because it sounded interesting. This turned my curiosity into a huge interest. I immediately loved working on AI. Before this, I had a very small understanding of the subject.
All my issues weren't related to the project itself. For example, I wanted to really challenge myself since this was my last semester—which turned into me having close to zero hours of free time. Between a coding boot camp, SIP. (student. innovation project), production studios, looking for a new place to live since I no longer need to live near UAT, looking for a job, etc., this ended cutting out a lot of the ideas I wanted to implement to the project. I would have loved to have included many more things.
I used the knowledge I received from UAT and my coding boot camp to pull this project off. The idea for face recognition was fresh in my head since it had been a topic in multiple AI classes, and I had worked on a production studios project a few semesters back that had face recognition as one of the features. But that aspect of the project wasn't optimized due to multiple complications for the team members that worked on that part of the project. This left me feeling unsatisfied and wanting some form of closure when it came to face recognition.
I believe people aren't pushing AI and Web Development together as much as they should be. There is a vast amount of potential for them to work in sync and create amazing new technologies we haven't seen yet. I would like to continue implementing AI in Web Development either as a job or a hobby.
At UAT, students are required to participate in projects that solve real problems. As Samael graduates and starts his tech career, his professors are really excited to see what he achieves. “When teaching students like Samael, that are so far above the norm, you have to know when to get out of their way and watch them work because they take off like rockets,” said Professor Hinton. “This student has worked so hard, and it's great to see him get recognition even beyond his good grades.”
Congrats to Samael and our spring graduates. We look forward to celebrating you in person this fall!
Google Home, smart watches, Nest, you’ve probably used one of these popular IoT devices before. This helpful technology allows users to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-computer interaction. This means you can have a smart home, or an IoT environment, where devices can communicate with each other for seamless user experiences.
Andrew Maddox (Network Security) and his team, Dylan Crockett and Brandon Jackson, are helping secure an IoT environment at UAT. An IoT environment may sound simple, but when addressing security measures, implementation can become complicated.
The overall goal is to take the Cyber Security Lab and transform it into an IoT environment. This is a collaborative project with many teams—Andrew’s team is in charge of securing the environment. “A lot of IoT environments, IoT houses, are not as secure as they could be,” Andrew explains, “There are instances where they’re marked as unsecure. So, bringing in a security aspect is a huge goal for this.”
The three-semester project just finished the first semester, which focused on planning and implementing all physical components of the IoT environment. During this process, network security and network engineering worked hand-in-hand. The physical devices needed to be in place before they could be secured.
These physical components include the server, switch functioning, routers and segmenting the network, which completes the core functions for the IoT devices.
For the second and third semesters, the team will focus on creating an environment that cannot be attacked and infiltrated. For this to happen, the team started with network segmentation to create a secure format. With how UAT’s IP is set up, the IoT environment lives on a different subnet of the main structure. There are two access points, one that’s public facing for student use, and one that’s dedicated to the IoT environment. The goal is to provide multiple access points on different IP ranges, so that users can’t access the environment and cause harm.
Because the server runs many vital processes for the IoT environment, securing it was a necessary first step. Next, a team of well-versed individuals, known as red teamers, will look for weaknesses by hacking the IoT environment.
Andrew contributed with setting up the server, fail demand security and building the infrastructure. Firewalls are used to secure Linux Windows devices. By providing a fail demand, you can ensure that ports are open and unwanted individuals are prohibited from accessing the network.
Fail demand is part of the protection for the SSH, which allows students to communicate with the server without physically using it. Fail demand is activated when someone tries to use brute force to gain access to the server. This involves using several usernames and passwords to gain access. Fail demand blocks the use of brute force by putting these requests into a virtual jail.
The opportunity to secure an IoT environment in a new way motivated Andrew, “I was thinking, this is awesome, this is going to increase not just my knowledge, but give me access to things I hadn’t had access to previously,” says Andrew. “Being able to pursue my knowledge and being able to involve myself in this project was just a huge opportunity.”
With the growing popularity of IoT environment, there’s a growing stigma around the security aspect. Providing a new security aspect is vital for UAT.
“With every emerging technology, there’s always going to be hiccups, especially on the security end of things,” Andrew remarked. “Getting to have an interaction with this technology and being able to plan and contribute to what could possibly change security measures in the future, that’s a big deal.”
Check UAT’s suite of cyber security degrees.
Andrew Maddox, Network Security
Dylan Crockett, Network Security
Brandon Jackson, Network Security
The team also obtained help involving infrastructure information from Jeff Verbus in IT during the project.
Innovation is key at UAT—staff, faculty and students are always looking to create something. The University bought the Segway Loomo platform for Advancing Computer Science and Robotics and Embedded Systems students to program it. Enter Brandon Michelsen.
UAT authored the Loomo project to Brandon and fellow classmates, Ke’Ondrae Mell and Garren Koller. The end purpose for the Loomo is to be a transport vehicle for events, specifically Perimeter83 to deliver items to event attendees. In addition to pulling a cart, other utilization methods are in the works, including autonomous navigation (the Loomo will follow set paths) and follow mode (the Loomo follows a person around).
In addition to orchestrating the project, Brandon has also worked on the follow mode and autonomous navigation part of the project. Ke’Ondrae worked on the communication functionality between the Loomo and cart, while Garren headed up the mechanical portion of the project.
So far, the team developed an Android application that provides a camera feed for navigation. The robot is able to navigate itself by recognizing a person and following them.
To attach the cart to the Loomo, the team create a 3D-printed one-piece hitch with attachment points on both ends. If the Loomo happens to bump into anything, the hitch itself rotates so that the card doesn’t detach or break the hitch. Additionally, electrical communication elements are needed for brake lights.
This project can be categorized as social robotics, which are autonomous robots that communicate and interact with humans by learning social behaviors and following rules accompanying its role. Many elements of the Loomo were premade for social robotics. The Loomo has different programmable voices, sounds and facial expressions—all with the purpose of helping people feel more comfortable around it.
One of Brandon’s priorities is to make the Loomo more interactive with people. The Loomo has a directional microphone in place to pick up directional sounds relevant to itself. This means the Loomo has the potential to recognize voices and determine where people are. “So, you could be standing off in the corner of a room and you can call for it to come to you using your voice and it will pick that out, turn towards you, and then move towards you,” explains Brandon, “I think that would be kind of a neat aspect for the social robotics point of the project, and I think it would be something interesting to work on.”
Robotic technology is a part of Brandon’s present and future. After he leaves UAT, Brandon would like to educate the next generation of technology innovators or join the modern space race. “I’m really interested in education, particularly bringing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) education to rural areas, because I grew up on a farm and we didn’t really have much in the way of STEAM,” says Brandon. “Being able to come here and learn more about technology and engineering, and those fields—I find it really cool and I’d like to bring more opportunities to younger students in the rural areas.”
Interested in more student-based projects? Read our last issue of Behind the Bits!
Garren Koller, Robotics and Embedded Systems, Digital Maker and Fabrication
Ke’Ondrae Mell, Robotics and Embedded Systems, Digital Maker and Fabrication
For the past 18 years, Scott Velasquez has worked Gearbox Software in Frisco, TX, where he resides as a Lead Programmer. He’s had the pleasure of working on a number of different titles such as Counter-Strike, Borderlands, Brothers and Arms, Halo and many others. Most recently, he put his talents forward as the Online & Social Product Owner for Borderlands 3 which released on PS4, PC and Xbox One. Scott wore many hats on this project ranging from project manager, designer, programmer and a smidgen of business development. He was involved with the ECHOcast Twitch extension, vault hunter profiles, photo mode, player pinging and most elements relating to online and local player interactions.
Scott believes technology is important because it can scale to reach a large number of users to solve many types of problems. Scott likes tackling different problems each day and is a lifelong learner. Technology is always evolving and keeps him on his toes!
When Scott was researching colleges in 1996, he noticed that most colleges were teaching old languages like COBOL, FORTRAN, etc. As an avid reader of PC Gamer, Scott came across a UAT ad advertising courses in languages and techniques specific to game development. He applied immediately after visiting the school.
Moving from a small town in West Texas to Arizona, he appreciated the next gen UAT facilities (he was using 486DX and dial-up back home).
UAT’s curriculum and professors challenged Scott in the best way possible. He was extremely impressed that the faculty had game industry experience and unique industry experience, such as his ex-NASA scientist Calculus professor. Scott enjoyed the way UAT professors taught, because they did a great job of explaining not only the how, but the why. Working full-time at Compuware and later Rhino Internet, Scott attended school in the evenings.
While at UAT, Scott made many great friends, some of which he is still friends with to this day. Pushing each other to learn more, Scott and his classmates had fun trying to outdo each other on assignments.
Scott encourages UAT students to meet other students and staff and put themselves out there. UAT is a great place to foster connections—you never know who you’ll meet—they might become a co-worker, friend or someone who will help down the road. Scott urges students to dig deeper and go above and beyond what the professor is asking on assignments. He also recommends joining or creating a group and building projects that can be highlighted and shared with your resume.
Scott advises students to find companies in the area where you can shadow or intern. “Getting a better understanding of the role you want to have someday will help you start preparing sooner rather than later. Attend some game development conferences and meetups,” recommends Scott, and finally, “Enjoy yourself, college will be something you look back on fondly when you get old like me.”
Scott feels that UAT absolutely prepared him for his career. Before UAT and just for the heck of it, he applied at 3drealms (he was a huge Duke Nukem 3D fan at the time). He knew it was a long shot—the programming he taught himself and learned in junior college didn't involve 3D. As expected, 3drealms turned him down due to his lack of 3D experience.
UAT taught Scott many things about programming, 3D development, data storage and manipulation, mathematics, web development and working with others. The greatest thing UAT taught Scott was how to logically approach problems and formulate solutions.
While working full-time and attending UAT, he made time to help a friend create a 3D engine in Java, soon after Java added 3D support. They were both programmers, so the 3D models were created by hand in notepad! Scott created a DirectX/OpenGL engine in C++ with networking support and built demo apps like a multiplayer 3D checkers game, a chat client, etc. Later, when Half-life and Unreal Tournament came out, he started learning how those engines worked and built mods.
After graduation, Scott landed a job at Cinematix Studios in Tempe. There, he could immediately apply programming concepts and Calculus while creating an audio engine and complex camera systems for two platformer games on PS2.
Scott encourages students to contact him with any questions about UAT or if they need advice as they prepare to enter the game industry (@thereal_scottv on Twitter).
Meet other UAT alum!
Did you know that 4.5 million Americans need a blood transfusion each year? That equals 43,000 pints of donated blood used each day in the United States and Canada. Luckily, one donation can potentially save up to three lives.
Some more facts about blood donation:
As you can see, donating blood is vital. Fortunately, it’s an easy way to give back and a simple process if you’re eligible. While only 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, less than 10 percent donate annually. Luckily, University of Advancing Technology (UAT) students and staff are doing their part to make up the 10 percent! Marc Benson recently visited the Bloodmobile to do his part. Students and employees stopped by in between classes to donate throughout the afternoon!
Whether it’s acts of community service or tackling the next big thing in technology, we strive to do honorable work every day. Our students are innovative, energetic and driven to always do their best. Our faculty are passionate academics and elite professionals who are focused on educating the next wave of innovators by leveraging their experiences to mentor students. Whether it’s helping students transition to campus life or look for work after graduation, we’re committed to providing support.
UAT is a community-focused campus. Through the efforts of faculty, staff, and student-run clubs, UAT is able to host events, like blood drives, to involve ourselves in community efforts. We value our place in the community and are working towards making a difference through various events and student-led projects. We support our community with honor and leadership.
Check out events happening around campus!
Day one of the beginner drawing class starts with students exploring many types of traditional media. Getting comfortable with Conte crayon, various types of charcoal and art pencils is their first assignment. The drawing class guides students through an introduction to the hardness scale for art pencils and a tutorial on how different hardness levels of graphite react to erasing and blending. The goal of this class exercise is to introduce students to manipulating foreign media. We can’t wait to see the art they create!
Check out the art degrees UAT offers.
To prepare for a life of creating technologies, UAT students use agile approaches, including scrum, as the backbone of essentially all of their project development activities. Agile Technology instructs students in agile methodologies, terminologies and roles. Students will practice agile within this course to prepare them for team projects throughout their time at UAT and in their careers after graduation.
In the popular course, Writing for Interactive Games, students learn native design by defining the character, the world and the events of the game. Security + Certification class teaches students to identify and address security threats, attacks and vulnerabilities. This year, students are most excited for AST101 The Night Sky, AST301 The Solar System, GAM352 Game Systems Design and VRT330 Augmented Reality Development.
Spotted! University of Advancing Technology (UAT) zombie fighters are having a great time! What is the most popular game of tag? College students would argue it’s Humans vs. Zombies, which is played around the world.
UAT’s campus is the perfect place for a high-intensity game of tag. With a field of grass situated between Founder’s Hall and the Commons, there’s room to run! Or, plan a sneak attack by hiding out in the New Technology Lab, Cyber Warfare Range, or the Motion Capture and Composite Studio.
Humans vs. Zombies is a survival game of tag. All players start the game as humans, and depending on the size of the game, one or two token players are chosen to be the Original Zombies. The Original Zombie eats (tags) the human players, who then turn into zombies. The zombies must eat the humans (at least one human every 48 hours), or they starve to death and are out of the game, resulting in a human win.
Luckily, the double tap rule isn’t a requirement in this game! Humans fend off zombies with socks, marshmallows and foam darts! The zombies win when all human players have been turned into zombies.
Gameplay Quick Rules:
The fun never stops at UAT. The next time you feel like playing a high-intensity game of tag, join your fellow UAT zombies.
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