In July, NJTechWeekly.com attended an event at Juniper Networks OpenLab (Bridgewater), at which about 25 students attending the Governor’s School of Engineering and Technology at Rutgers learned about Juniper’s ethos and networking technology.
The students were also treated to a day in the life of a network engineer by Hal Stern, vice president and chief architect of the Management and Virtualization Platform Group at Juniper.
Some of the best and brightest from N.J. high schools are selected to participate in the Governor’s School. Though some 400 students are nominated by their schools every year, only 25 percent are accepted. There is no charge to families for this program, which lets students pursue their passion during the summer following their junior year.
As the Juniper team spoke to and elicited questions from the teens, it quickly became apparent that many of them had sophisticated knowledge of communications networking. They lobbed questions at the delighted Juniper employees, who went to great lengths to answer them. The team realized that these were not only Governor’s School students but possible future employees.
Jerry Passione, OpenLab general manager, told the students about what Juniper does: supplying the tools to let network clients customize their networks. “If you think of networks, initially they were designed to connect something from point A to point B. It was a simple challenge. Now, with the intelligence imbedded in the networks themselves, … you can start to change things based on certain conditions,” he explained. Passione provided examples of items that can be changed, such as how traffic is routed based on time of day or network congestion. “There are a lot of cool things that we are doing with networks here,” he said.
When NJTechWeekly.com attended the event, Carol Zamprogna of the human resources department, visiting the Bridgewater facility from Boston, told the young people about Juniper’s collaborative work environment and what they could expect as employees. Zamprogna noted that Juniper has made the World’s Most Ethical Companies list, adding that when she hires, she seeks those with the same ideals as those of the firm. She also described the company’s internship program to the students.
Gordon Mosley of Juniper Educational Services gave the students a primer on networking, asking them questions along the way. He discussed everything from local area networks (LANs), metropolitan area networks (MANs) and wide area networks (WANs) to varying transmission methods. He covered switches and routers, including how they get communications traffic to its destination, and security devices that can decide which traffic is allowed.
As the students began asking questions, the discussion became more interesting. They inquired about firewall implementation in software rather than in hardware. Mosley asked if anyone in the group had used Linux, and he received a sizeable response. “You can actually go into the Linux box itself and configure statements in code that can control what can go in or out of that individual device,” he noted. When you have a thousand machines, hardware is a better answer than software, he added.
A student question led Mosley to explain packet-level routing and application-level firewalls. Yet another led to a discussion on unique identifiers and media access control (MAC) addresses. A third addressed bridges and how they differ from switches.
After all these questions, Mosley explained the seven-layer Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) standards for networks and the routing experience for data. Later in the day, the students received a security basics lecture and demonstration from Taso Mangafas of the Juniper security specialist team and listened to a discussion on mobility basics by Vince Spinelli of the mobility specialist team.