High Tech Fields in Business Give Birth to New Student Clubs

Information Technology and Digital Forensics majors take the initiative in establishing organizations fostering career preparedness and public service.

IT and DF club students gather with faculty mentors: front row, left to right Jesus Nunez-Arenas, Tony Breuning, Rosa Bautista, Marielle Gonzales, Aneeda Rahaman and Dominick Foti; back row, Wayne McKellar, Miguel Nunez, faculty adviser Justin Giboney, Isaac Dallas, faculty adviser Sanjay Goel, and Jason Wolbrom. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 8, 2016) — 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 was relevant to his major. Bautista found digital forensics as a freshman, when assigned to a work-study position doing research with Sanjay Goel, associate professor and chair of Information Technology Management (ITM). She sought a club that connected people with an interest in cyber security.

Bautista and Nunez-Arenas found common ground when the School of Business student club Digital Forensics Association (DFA) was born. The pair now share the presidency of the DFA, which has a core of students enrolled in the digital forensics major and others from a variety of disciplines, including criminal justice, psychology, and political science.

Bautista, who will begin work in technology risk advisory for the multinational professional services firm 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.”

The club’s first project was participation in Relay for Life, a major UAlbany fundraising event. Last fall, the DFA also prepared fellow students for the University-wide career fair. A program on career professionalism offered suggestions on how to make the most of limited time with a recruiter, including how to use buzzwords and incorporate pertinent technical skills into the conversation.

Included in the DFA’s plans are hack-a-thons and campus-wide scavenger hunts that offer the opportunity to apply the crime scene investigation techniques the students learned in class.

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.” The general public assumes that all modern students are tech-savvy, but 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.”

Wayne McKeller ’16 is DFA vice president and also sits on the executive board of ISACA, an information technology club that was also launched last fall. 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 career possibilities within digital forensics and also serves to build digital forensics and information security technical skill sets for our members.”

Recent ISACA speakers have included alumni Anthony D’Alessandro ’07, talent acquisition manager for Twitter, and Chris Catalano MBA ’12, global program manager of General Electric’s IT leadership program.

ISACA president Dominick Foti said the group would like to host more alums, and hopes they will contact ISACA. “We are looking for alumni to present on information technology even if they do not work in the field,” said the dual major in accounting and business, with a concentration in ITM. “For instance, how does IT work with your job?”

This semester, ISACA is looking 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.

DFA hopes to tap into the network of alumni working in multiple areas of technology to develop mentoring relationships and to sponsor events.

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