Robert Flores’ interest in computers began when he was a child. “I’ve always liked computers ever since I was young,” said Flores, a junior majoring in infrastructure assurance. “I got my first computer when I was four or five.”
Flores maintained this interest and in his junior year of high school was given the chance to take college-level computer science courses through the Alamo Colleges Information Technology and Security Academy in San Antonio.
While studying there, Flores participated as a team captain in the CyberPatriot competition. The Air Force Association’s national CyberPatriot competition (supported by UTSA’s Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security) was created to encourage high school students to pursue careers in cyber security and national defense. As a junior Flores’ team placed third, and as a senior they won first place.
Because of his involvement in the CyberPatriot competition and the academy, Flores secured an internship with the United States Air Force 33rd Network Warfare Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base. There he gained experience in network analytics and incident response.
In order to continue his internship with the Air Force and study in an NSA-accredited program, Flores chose to attend UTSA. “I wanted to attend a school that would help me accomplish my goal of working with computers in cyber security,” said Flores. The positive reputation of the college’s Infrastructure Assurance and Security program sealed his decision.
Studying at the No. 1 cyber security program in the nation, Flores has become interested in the hot topic of net neutrality (making Internet access affordable and not allowing providers to censor information online).
“We have the potential to grow our infrastructure and make everything less biased,” said Flores, to whom net neutrality is a critical issue. “That’s why I’m excited for companies like Google that are pushing for more net neutrality. I try to follow the court cases to see where things are going. I’m hoping that eventually we’ll get there, but it’s a learning process.”
Flores is looking forward to taking courses this fall in network security and information assurance and security with business faculty members Darrell Carpenter and Robert Kaufman. In addition to his studies, he is a member of the Business Scholars Program (for first-generation college students) and two honors societies in the College of Business.
To prepare for his professional future, Flores has interned with Booz Allen Hamilton. His favorite project was creating a plug-in for Microsoft Outlook that scans emails and attachments for personal information and alerts the user prior to sending. Flores will continue his internship with Booz Allen Hamilton this fall.
While Flores has already accomplished much during his tenure at UTSA, his most memorable experience was being recognized as one of the 100 Best Business Students at UTSA.“I heard about the honor when I was first considering UTSA,” Flores recalled. “I was already asking, how do I get on that list? I knew it would be a great honor.”
With so many achievements in his short career, the only challenge for Flores is finding the next goal to conquer.
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