Remote Student Spotlight: Kevin Rode

Kevin Rode is an upcoming senior in Champlain College’s Computer Networking and Cybersecurity program and Research Assistant at the Leahy Center. With Champlain going remote, Kevin shares with us his experience working on a sixth-semester workload and in-depth Leahy Center research stuck in campus dorms.

“Please, tell us about the team you’re on, the project you’re working on and your position on that team.”

“I work on the IoT Team creating a scenario to showcase the use of IoT devices in criminal investigations. These devices are used all around us, from in our homes to on the street. If you live in a busy city, you’re almost definitely in the vicinity of a device at all times, between smartphones, smart watches, etc. We know how important these devices can be for collecting evidence in criminal investigations, given how prevalent they are in society. There’s abundant information just sitting inside of them that’s particularly relevant to these types of investigation.

The issue arises when we see that local law enforcement can’t parse that data correctly. What good is that data if you don’t know how to access it? That’s why we’re creating this scenario. We want to give people the ability to learn how to extract data from these devices in real situations. Through this, we hope law enforcement will be more prepared for utilizing the data in these devices.”

“What is your current home life like now as a remote college student?”

“I’m one of the few that was able to remain on campus during this entire mess. There isn’t a lot of room for me back home, so I would likely otherwise need an apartment. Luckily for me, here I have my own room. I do have roommates, but we’re separated off. Through having different rooms, I can keep an isolated workspace and choose when I want to hang out. It keeps me from going insane, both from always being by myself and never so. I get to decide what balance is healthiest for me and keep to it.

Additionally, one of my roommates moved out for the semester, so I converted his bedroom. Now it’s a sort-of workspace separated from both my full-time and schoolwork. Not only did this let me set up a good data-gen environment, but it also meant I had a separate zone to work on research. For me, having that separate research zone helps me focus a lot more on it, especially as the room doesn’t have things like my laptop, etc.”

“What does a typical day look like for you now?”

“I work full-time doing IT support, starting right at 8AM. Luckily for me, you don’t exactly need to be presentable to pick up a phone. I wake up a few minutes before I need to work and basically roll over to my desk to start the day. Things like breakfast etc. all come as the day lets them. It’s definitely a bit rough—it’s not as easy to go out and get lunch, and getting groceries is a logistical nightmare.

It’s definitely nice to be able to dictate my own flow for research though. I can pick it up on periods of downtime, in between other work. Being around the machines constantly is good for data generation, so I get a lot to work with. Sometimes the sterility of an office just can’t beat fiddling with an Alexa in your pajamas.”

“How has your teamwork pattern changed given the shift to remote work?”

“The thing about our project is that it’s not primarily research focused. We’re basically trying to create a training environment. Because of this, most of the information is already known. It’s our team’s job to create this guided experience. Because the overall volume of information we’re sharing is lower, our communication is pretty consistent from before we went remote. We mostly use services like Slack and Trello to keep each other updated. Slack lets us message each other info, and Trello works to keep us on track. Overall, not much has changed on that front.”

“Anything else you would like to add?”

“Right now, things are gonna be rough. We can’t get groceries like normal, we can’t work together like normal. We really get to see, however, the power of today’s technology. At no other point have we been so connected that we could all be stuck at home and still get critical research done together. I don’t know where I would be in this project without my team, and I’m not sure what I’d do without the technology to communicate with them.”

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