John Newsom, 2018-2019 Fellow (LinkedIn Profile)

My pursuit of higher education started immediately after high school, but lack of a clear direction led me to the Air Force. The resulting military benefits would eventually empower me to complete my undergraduate degree, focusing on cyber security at UTSA. The final semester of that program placed me in Dr. Nicole Beebe’s Digital Forensics classroom and finally provided me the clear direction for which I had been searching.  Dr. Beebe encouraged me to seek a cyber security-focused master’s degree at UTSA through the Kudla Fellowship.

How did the Kudla Fellowship support you in your career goals?
Overall, the Kudla Fellowship has been a transformative experience for me. I am eager to take what I have discovered and apply it to the next chapter in my life. Within a few months into the Kudla Fellowship, I was leading cyber security summer camp training with high school students. Witnessing them learn about this critical career field was incredibly transformative for me. I had never seen the look in someone’s eyes when they start to understand a concept.  It was this moment that made me fully appreciate the job of a teacher, and it made me realize teaching is something that I wanted in my future.

What was your research experience as a fellow like? Did you learn or apply anything that you later used on the job?
My research assignments have enabled me to master new skills, harness previous knowledge and take on leadership roles. One of my first assignments required programming in Python, for which I had no prior experience. I was given the time to learn this language and apply it to our research objectives, which provided me with a deep understanding of Python.

The most impactful research assignment required me to lead a team to build a new lab to study Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices as they relate to Building Automation Systems (BAS).  This research project has allowed me to collaborate with our U.S. Secret Service partner, explore problems facing real-world BAS installations and utilize my prior design training to create lab fixtures.