Students Create New Opportunities

Establish Clubs in Information Technology and Digital Forensics

Members of the executive boards of ISACA and the Digital Forensics Association
Members of the executive boards of ISACA and the Digital Forensics Association
Front row: DFA Co-President Jesus Nunez-Arenas, ISACA Secretary Tony Breuning, DFA Co-President Rosa Bautista, ISACA Treasurer Marielle Gonzales, DFA Secretary Aneeda Rahaman, ISACA President Dominick Foti
Back row: DFA Vice President and ISACA External Relations Chair Wayne McKellar, DFA Treasurer Miguel Nunez, DFA Faculty Adviser Dr. Justin Giboney, ISACA Community Service Chair Isaac Dallas, ISACA Faculty Adviser Dr. Sanjay Goel, ISACA Vice President Jason Wolbrom

Last fall, Jesus Nunez-Arenas ’17 and Rosa Bautista ’16 were on a similar quest. Nunez-Arenas had begun classes in the newly created bachelor’s degree in digital forensics and was hoping to join a club that built on his major. Bautista found digital forensics as a freshman, when she was assigned to a work-study position doing research with ITM professor Sanjay Goel. She enrolled in the trailblazing program in digital forensics and sought a club that connected people with an interest in cyber security. Bautista and Nunez-Arenas found common ground as the Digital Forensics Association was born.

This fall, the pair share the presidency of the DFA. The group has been approved by the student association as an official university club and by the School of Business Deans Leadership Council. Their first project was participation in Relay for Life, a major fundraising event at UAlbany. The DFA has a core of students enrolled in the digital forensics major and has attracted students from a variety of disciplines, including criminal justice, psychology and political science, as well as business majors. They have grown to 25 members.

As the second year of the undergraduate degree in digital forensics began, the group’s first order of business was to prepare fellow students for the universitywide career fair. A program on career professionalism offered suggestions on how to make the most of limited time with a recruiter, using buzzwords and incorporating pertinent technical skills into the conversation.

Included in the DFA plans are campuswide scavenger hunts using crime scene investigation techniques they learned in class and hack-a-thons. Nunez-Arenas explained that a hack-a-thon does not necessarily involve hacking. He said, “It’s a 24 hour event that involves creating applications.”

Bautista and Nunez-Arenas stressed the inclusive nature of the club. Nunez-Arenas said, “Our goal is to promote careers in information technology to women, minorities, LGBTQ and the younger generation.” Though those of us who graduated years ago assume that all students are tech-savvy, it is not the case. Nunez-Arenas, originally a criminal justice major, said, “In high school I did not think about computers. I had no idea what we could do.”

Bautista, who will begin work in technology risk advisory for EY after graduation, said, “As we get the organization off the ground, we are building connections with other campus groups, people who have a stake in cyber security. The field is so new and so necessary.”

Wayne McKeller ’16 is vice president of the Digital Forensics Association and also sits on the executive board of ISACA, an information technology club that also launched last fall. Like the finance-oriented University at Albany School of Business Investment Club, ISACA has an application process. There is room for 30 in the group and 90 applied for those spaces. Because they limit membership, ISACA is not eligible for student association funding.

According to McKeller, the groups complement each other. He said, “The two clubs differ in that ISACA aims to teach students real-world technologies and skills that are being used in the workforce. We use professionals to speak to students and teach them whatever skill allows them to excel at their particular job. DFA works to spread awareness about the career possibilities within digital forensics and also serves to build digital forensics and information security technical skill sets for our members.

ISACA president Dominick Foti, a dual major in accounting and business with a concentration in ITM, said the group would like more alumni speakers. Noting that the vice president of the club is in the Financial Analyst Honors Program, Foti said, “We are looking for alumni to present on information technology even if they do not work in the field. For instance, how does IT work with your job?” He plans to provide members with opportunities to connect with companies ranging from large consulting firms to boutique security companies. Recent ISACA speakers include Anthony D’Alessandro ’07, talent acquisition manager for Twitter and Chris Catalano MBA ’12, global program manager - IT leadership program for General Electric.

In the spring, ISACA hopes to give back to the community by developing information technology consulting teams to assist nonprofits and startups. Services would be donated or offered at a minimal cost.

If you are interested in speaking on how information technology affects your work, ISACA would like to hear from you.

The Digital Forensics Association would like to tap into the network of alumni working in multiple areas of technology to develop mentoring relationships and to sponsor events.