An enthusiastic, receptive group of New Jersey Governor’s School of Engineering and Technology students took time from their projects to travel from their home base, Rutgers University, to Juniper Networks OpenLab (Bridgewater) July 9, 2014.
The students were treated to instructional material on software-defined networking, information about network security and career advice at Juniper’s state-of-the-art facility.
NJTechWeekly.com spoke with some students attending the event, who said they were fascinated by the insights into how the Internet really works and how complicated it is. They came from a mix of public and private schools, and there were a fair number of girls attending.
Many students were already familiar with networking concepts like virtual private networks (VPNs) and were able to understand a primer on network security. That talk was delivered by dynamic speaker Gordon Mosley, a member of the OpenLab educational services team.
Some of the best and brightest from New Jersey high schools are selected to participate in the Governor’s School summer program each year. Though some 400 students are nominated by their schools annually, just 25 percent are accepted. There is no charge to families for this program, which lets students pursue their passions as rising high school seniors.
Mosley explained the ins and outs of communications network security to the group. Networks are vulnerable to attack when packets leave a machine and anyone can see them, and that’s where VPNs come in, he said.
While communications travel on a public network, the data is encrypted. Said Mosley, “We also do something called hash it,” which prevents the data from being modified. VPNs secure traffic as it travels through the network, he told the students, explaining the various ways that is accomplished.
NJTechWeekly.com heard Lenny Giuliano, a Juniper engineer and lead architect on the company’s sales team, discuss his experiences and explain the differences between engineers and scientists. “The physicist wants to learn about something, perhaps about how waves propagate … the engineer wants to take that knowledge and build something with it,” he told the group. “We care about things like cost, practicality and safety,” he said.
Engineers are problem solvers, Giuliano added, and engineering requires collaboration: “Great achievements can’t be done alone. You can have great ideas, but you need to work well with others.” Moreover, great engineers understand their role in the group and have to be able to communicate their ideas, speak in public and write to persuade others, he noted.
Engineers take time out of their day to analyze problems and think them through, he told the students.
Giuliano said engineers have to be honest and ethical, which often takes courage. “It’s tough to tell a customer, ‘Your baby is ugly’ [when he or she wants to do something the wrong way]. But I have a responsibility,” he noted. He said his job is to steer the customer to a better way of doing things.
Failure is the key to engineering success, he told the students, and going to school for engineering can be challenging.
“Every engineer has been in a math class and looked at a professor and said, ‘I don’t know what in the world you are talking about,’ ” said Giuliano.
He urged the students not to drop out of engineering when they face that first highly challenging class but to work through it and know they are not alone.
Finally Nic Xenos, worldwide lead for Juniper's Academic Alliances Program talked to the students about what employers are looking for, giving them some good advice about building portfolios, cleaning up their Facebook pages, and positioning themselves for internships.