Tag Archives: Champlain College

The Leahy Center’s New Director Adam Goldstein

The Leahy Center has a new Executive Director: Adam Goldstein, an Assistant Professor from Champlain College. We sat down with him to talk about his journey here and his plans for the future.

Editor: “First of all, congratulations on your new position as executive director of the Leahy Center! I’m wondering—what motivated you to take on this position?”

Adam: “I had been working at the Leahy Center with John, Alex, and Joe for a couple of years. I enjoyed engaging with students working on projects outside of the classroom. The experiential learning work that is being done down here is great both for the students and the community. I liked involving myself with those projects. When the opportunity was there, It felt like a chance to be even more involved. It was a chance to continue the good work we’ve been doing with Champlain and the Leahy Center.”

“About those projects, do you have anything that you’re interested in starting up?”

I think that it isn’t as much new projects as it is continuing to expand what we’ve been doing well. A big part of our direction going forward is to continue to work with community partners. This ranges from nonprofits and other groups that we support to private industry and businesses. We’re looking at folks who have been hiring our students. We can work with them on projects that can help prepare students for the workplace. In particular, we’re looking to expand the Internet of Things projects. We are looking for partners for the potential to have some sponsored research. Healthcare settings have seen more and more IoT technology, so we want to look into that. We are also looking into building control systems, now that there is more automation. This means partnering with some groups who are either developing or supporting those projects to make sure they are secure.”

“I see you have a lot of experience—10 years at Dartmouth, 5 years at Villanova. I was wondering: how do experiences here at Champlain differ from those at previous institutions? How do you bring those experiences here?”

“My background in Dartmouth and Villanova was in security operations, so I ran the cybersecurity operations at both places. In both instances, I was the first cybersecurity person that was hired into the, at the time, new positions. Because of that, I had to basically build those programs. In those small environments, you basically do everything, between internal investigations and partnering with law enforcement for civil issues. Through that, I have a lot of applied experience. I had a good view of the growth of cybersecurity as a discipline over the past 20 years.
I think coming to Champlain and making that shift to teaching full time has been kind of an aspiration of mine, its something I really enjoy doing, but having that operational background really helps inform the projects that we work on as well as the groups that we partner with because I understand the operational needs and challenges of different organizations.”

“Earlier you mentioned that you would be the first person hired in those cybersecurity positions. I feel like it goes to show just how new of a field cybersecurity is. Where do you feel the Leahy Center fits in that timeline, and how does it fit in as the field progresses?”

I feel like the Leahy Center is extremely innovative. Champlain College as a whole was an early adopter of digital forensics and cybersecurity as an academic discipline. We were one of the first to really have majors in those fields. I think that the program that has been built here, providing those experiential opportunities for so many students for so many years, is ahead of its time; definitely the direction of the future. The college is excited to expand experiential learning, and the Leahy Center is at the forefront of that. Going forward, because it is such a new field, the community needs help. Organizations that are resource-constrained now have to deal with cybersecurity issues that, 10-15 years ago, they didn’t. They shouldn’t have to, nor should they necessarily need to, apply resources that would otherwise go towards the good work they would be doingAs a center, I think we’re well-positioned to help by having our students work in those organizations, assisting them in their cybersecurity and digital investigation efforts. It provides learning experiences for our students while minimizing resource impacts for those organizations and increasing their efficacy and security.”

“Looking a bit inwards, how would you describe the working environment here at the Leahy Center, and how does that factor into your future plans?”

“Given the fact that we have 80-100 undergrads working here any given semester in numerous teams, students coming from different disciplines at the college, all working under student supervisors, I think the working atmosphere is great. It really is preparing students for the workplace. You here that time and time again from the employers that come to hire our students. The work that we do here is really preparing them, and the employer’s notice. I think going forward, we really want to continue to see a multidisciplinary approach, one with more collaboration. Some of the exciting projects we’re working on now bring a lot of opportunities for students of other disciplines. Next year, we’re looking at projects where we’re going to bring in Psychology, Business Development, and Criminal Justice students. We can build some great interdisciplinary teams to work on solving problems together, so I’m excited. We are continuing to do the great work we’re doing and working to build more opportunities for more students.”

“Do you have any big ambitions moving forwards?”

“In the past, the Leahy Center has had a couple clear objectives. One of these is providing professional services through digital investigations and security operations. We also have a research component with students working on exciting projects and providing that info to the community. I think what we’re working on now is having outreach initiatives, more projects focused on engagement with the community.
We also want to work on education initiatives. This includes developing programs where our students are helping design and create training and other educational resources. Professionals and community members would use these to understand cybersecurity issues. I think the goal going forward is having four-pillar ideas: professional services, research, education, and outreach.”

“To wrap it up, is there anything that anybody reading this should be looking for soon?”

“Stay tuned. Like I said, we have a lot of exciting projects on the horizon. I think there will be some exciting news about some of the partnerships we’re developing, and yeah, we’re excited.”

“Alright, well congratulations again on your new position. Thank you for taking the time to sit and talk!”

“Thank you!”

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Leahy Center Student Showcase: Liam DiFalco

Introduction to the Leahy Center Student Showcase

The Leahy Center for Digital Forensics & Cybersecurity employs students from a wide array of different states, backgrounds, and skillsets. Through this diversity, we can constantly challenge our status quo and stay at the cutting edge of forensic research. Above this, however, we are able to build a fantastic, inclusive community, one that allows anyone to foster their love for digital forensics and cybersecurity into workable skills and make meaningful connections in the workplace. We would like to shine a spotlight on those who help make the Leahy Center the place it is. The student interns that work at the Leahy Center are not only learning the skills they need for a future in digital forensics, but also contribute fresh perspectives and work to make the Leahy Center a lively place.

Our first student is Liam DiFalco, a high school student from Burlington High School. Working with college students and trained professionals is intimidating, so we took a look into how Liam interacts with the Leahy Center to further his education. Thank you, Liam, for allowing us to interview you!

#1: Liam DiFalco

Editor: “Hey Liam, how’s it going?”

Liam: “Pretty good.”

Editor: “So tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do, what are your interests?”

Liam: “Well I live in Burlington, Vermont, but I was born in Bristol. I go to school at Burlington High School, and I have interests in computers and cars. In fact, building cars is a hobby of mine. I’m trying to get Digital Forensics as my major going to Champlain College.”

Editor: “Living in Burlington, how easy is it for you to pursue those interests in data recovery and computer stuff?”

Liam: “Well, I mean, it’s certainly not as populated a state as, say, California. There’s not as many tools or resources as there are in very populated cities, but living in Burlington, it’s nice to have access to the Leahy Center and all of these tools, as well as people that know what they’re doing to help teach you how to use them.”

Editor: “How did you hear about the Leahy Center?”

Liam: “Well, I actually have a relative who works in this building, so I’ve been here several times. I’ve seen this place as I go back and forth, and I ask, “What do they do? It looks really impressive.” It wasn’t until last summer, when I heard about DFCS Academy, where I was like, “OK, I want to do this so I can get more involved with whatever is going on over here,” and I learned more about digital forensics and cybersecurity in those two weeks than I have in my entire life.”

Experience at the Leahy Center

Editor: “Speaking of your experience here, what kind of things are you doing? What kinds of projects are you working on?”

Liam: “Even though it’s been a few weeks, I’m still getting a hold of everything that I need to be learning, including using VMWare, learning the lingo, and learning all the different tools I need to use. It’s still pretty fascinating to me. I could spend days on end in that lab, searching through a drive or just doing research on what I need to do. It’s just interesting, there’s so much I could learn from it.”

“I learned more about digital forensics and cybersecurity in those two weeks than I have in my entire life.”

Editor: “Can you go into a bit more detail on the different tools that are available to you here that you might not have access to elsewhere?”

Liam: “Just in data recovery, there’s Axiom, EnCase, all the VMWare tools, thousands of dollars worth of software that I would never be able to use at my house. There are 3-D printers, powerful and expensive computers, write blockers, different kinds of forensic tools that I can delve into, it’s a trove of tools you can use to stop cyber-crime and learn something.”

Editor: “Talk to us about the community here. What is it like working on projects with the people who are on your shift with you?”

Liam: “Working with the people in my group, the data recovery group, is pretty good. They’re very independent. They know what they’re doing. It’s interesting to see and watch what they’re doing through the Trello boards different blog posts we have. During my first couple of days here, I was pretty intimidated. I was a little bit shorter than everyone else, I didn’t really know anybody, but everybody here is extremely friendly, extremely kind.

Balancing School and Work

Editor: “How does the stuff you’re doing in high school tie in with the stuff you’re doing here at the Leahy Center? Is there any interconnected material between both of them?”

Liam: “Well, surprisingly, yes and no. In almost every class I can bring up something that I learned about here. This is a weird example, but when I’m talking to students about deleting files on your phone or computer, they don’t understand the concept that it’s still there, it’s still gonna be there. It’s kind of interesting to see how much more I know about this stuff than them and seeing all the stuff they know about that I don’t.”

Editor: “You seem pretty driven in your work here. You’re still going to school, how are you balancing coming here and doing your work at the Leahy Center while also being a high school student?”

Liam: “Well, I contacted my advisers through the school. We managed to get it so I could have fewer shifts here, two-hour shifts instead of three or four, and only come into school before or after my shifts. I had my classes picked out for the day to balance this and school. I feel this could be more important than just getting the credits to graduate.”

Wrapping Up

Editor: “Where do you see yourself in the future after college, after you take these classes at Champlain? How do you feel your experience here helps you with that?”

Liam: “Well, I hope to see myself getting into a fairly decent job after college, ideally within the first few months, maybe working with the Leahy Center or a private firm. I don’t know the path that’s waiting for me after college. With this job, it could be anything, from a small business to a firm or corporation, but I hope to be able to use these skills to my advantage every single day.”

Editor: “Fantastic. I just have one more question for you: how do you like it here?”

Liam: “If I had to come up with one word, I would say it’s very comfortable here. I feel like this is the place where I’m supposed to be during the day. I’m relaxed, people around me know what they’re doing, and I’m learning what I’m doing. I don’t feel like I’m stressed out coming here, or glad that I’m leaving; I’m kind of sad when I leave. I think it’s a pretty great place.”

Editor: “Cool, well it was nice talking to you!”

Liam: “Yeah, thank you!”

*As of 11/20/19 Liam has been admitted to the Computer & Digital Forensics program at Champlain College and will be attending as a full-time student in the fall of 2020.

All Photos by Deja Miller, ‘22 // Marketing

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