IT School to Watch: Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Its information security lab gives students hands-on experience.

When Stan Nurilov attended Polytechnic Institute of New York University in an accelerated bachelor's/master's of computer science program from 2002 to 2006, he truly enjoyed the technical courses he took in areas like operating systems and databases.

But it wasn't until he graduated and began working as a software developer/project leader for a branch of the U.S. military that Nurilov fully appreciated the project-level courses that taught him about leadership qualities.

"Those classes really help me when I need to work with customers and gain collaboration on projects," he says.

Nurilov is one of a few dozen Polytechnic students who have participated in a cybersecurity program funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. The program paid for Nurilov's last two years of tuition and his rent in exchange for his commitment to serve an internship and to work at a federal agency for two years.

The program, launched in 2005, has placed 45 undergraduate and graduate students into government security jobs over the past four years.

"We were covering security courses in 2002, and then we got active in the national push to beef up in this area, both in research and in education," says Stuart Steele, head of Polytechnic's department of computer and information science. "We put together an information security lab that gives people hands-on experience as well as theory. We evolved from there."

Another Polytechnic graduate, Monique Delmar, started at Northrop Grumman Corp. as a systems engineer in flight testing after obtaining a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. But as she became more involved in systems testing and systems integration work, Delmar decided to return to Polytechnic to pursue her master's.

The graduate-level coursework was immediately applicable for Delmar, whose employer covered 80% of her tuition. And even though Northrop Grumman would have covered 100% of her graduate tuition at another college, Delmar says she's glad she opted for Polytechnic.

"I'm in a different sector at Northrop Grumman since graduation," says Delmar, "and [the move] came with a nice 29% pay increase."

This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

Next: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Real-world elements include classes that emphasize business skills.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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