Student Spotlight: Josh Longmire
Since he was a kid, Josh Longmire always loved science and always wanted to be a scientist.
“The biggest life-changing moment I can remember is when my dad first started showing me how to use a computer,” he said. “To me, it was love at first click. The big floppy discs, eight inches at the time, were magnificent treasures. I was so captivated that though each disc looked exactly the same, each held a different yet equally exciting and inspiring adventure. To a kid, it is magic to see a screen change with the click of a button or a change of disc. I try to always remember the beauty of the computer as I saw it then.”
After Longmire began working full-time, he was trying hard to save money and plan for the future. He began taking classes in Computer and Internetworking Technologies and Computer Information Systems at College of DuPage in order to gain instantly applicable knowledge.
Instead, he was enthralled by the endless possibilities of applied math and programming.
“I began to see of the true beauty of what a computer was and how each system works overall to create the vast connected infrastructure we have today,” he said. “To me, the Spock-like Boolean logic of the computer system is one of the greatest and most beautiful feats of engineering. That we can do so much with a simple 0 and 1 to me is just downright amazing.”
While at College of DuPage, Longmire received a variety of scholarships to help pay for his education: the Troy Scholarship for Engineering, Naperville Rotary Charities Scholarship, Foundation Scholarship and Lillian Neale Campbell Scholarship.
“The scholarship program was the reason I am on the track I am on now. The tremendous work of the charities and scholarships at COD continue to help students beyond measure,” he said. “The coupling of this with access to a state-of-the-art facility with top-notch classes and faculty means any student can be properly prepared to move forward toward whatever future they can imagine.”
While his focus is on his studies, Longmire is also looking for opportunities outside the classroom, such as participating in the U.S. Cyber Challenge (USCC) through the National Center for Systems Security and Information Assurance.
“To me, participating in things like the Cyber Challenge is a really crucial part of my higher education,” Longmire said. “These challenges allow industry leaders to see how potential candidates think and to see if they will be able to harden the security of their systems, or to respond to a security breach.”
The hands-on experience also reinforces curriculum, he said, adding that faculty and instructors at COD inspired him to be vigilant and take initiative in learning and practicing new skills. The USCC featured a week of training by computer security professionals and private cyber security company executives before teams were tasked with finding systems vulnerabilities, earning points along the way.
Longmire’s team, made up entirely of first-time competitors, finished third in the state.
“The challenge was quite difficult, especially since I was competing against in-industry IT and cyber security professionals who did this for a living as well as Computer Science graduate students and professors,” he said. “It included a network setup with several computers with certain vulnerabilities that were then exploited for points. We used our laptops to carry out the actions an attacker would use against a live network. I’m quite proud to have been able to lead my team to score third in the state and hope that by continuing to be a self-learner and doing well in school I’ll be able to have a successful career.”
After earning his associate’s degree, Longmire transferred to the University of Illinois at Chicago to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science and hopefully a master’s and Ph.D., making him the first in his family to achieve all of these educational goals. He then would like to conduct research in information security.
He considers College of DuPage an ideal place to explore his interests while gaining the support to succeed both inside and outside the classroom.
“Before coming to COD, I wasn’t sure yet what I really wanted to do. Once I got there, I realized just how connected COD is, allowing me to either get a job quickly or prepare me to move on and get a degree,” he said. “Through an amazing set of faculty and mentors, I found my purpose. The affordable prices, exceptional staff and flexible class times made it a perfect place for me to learn and create a better future for myself.
“I would tell others to be prepared to work hard and learn a lot. If you go in with a good attitude and keep it up day after day, you will be a successful student. By knowing yourself and planning accordingly, life can be very full and exciting. I love COD so much for giving me the time to explore my passions and have such a full and fulfilled life with such great hope for the future. As a result, I will try my hardest to shine a little light so that others can find hope at COD just as I have.”
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