He made the most of his opportunities to become president of the Computer Science club and landed a prestigious internship at CBS.

Growing up in Colombia, Nicolas Gomez was rarely able to get his hands on new technology when it was first released. To Gomez, a four-year-old iPod was considered to be new. Even though he had to deal with this barrier, he was still fascinated by technology. His parents set passwords on the computer in an attempt to cut down his use, but inevitably he was able to figure them out and would use the computer to play games, listen to music and explore how the computer worked.

In his teenage years, Gomez was told that his family was moving down the road to a new house in Colombia. A few days later he was settling down in the United States. Gomez was surprised, but this new home opened up a world of opportunities, and he’s made the most of them ever since.

He started with Adelphi during the Fall 2015 semester and began pursuing a career in game development as part of the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science program. After speaking with Assistant Professor Kees Leune, Ph.D., Gomez decided to change his specialty to information security. With cybersecurity attacks on an exponential rise over the last few years and only becoming more abundant, Gomez saw this as a field where he would have everlasting job security.

Shortly after Gomez made this switch, he decided to join the Cybersecurity club on campus, as he was eager to learn more about the field he had just joined. The club gave him the opportunity to build on the knowledge he learned in class, and he got to practice real-world cybersecurity skills such as ethical hacking. Seeing how much the club offered firsthand convinced him to run for and become president of the club in his second year.

When Gomez first joined the club he knew it would give him a different experience that would help him stand out to potential employers. “You can go to class and get good grades, but it’s not the same as people with projects, internships and extracurriculars. Those are what make you special and make you stand out. People always say they don’t have enough real-world experience, this is a way to get more experience.” Sure enough, this experience helped him land an internship at CBS this past summer.

As a member of the incident response team, Gomez was tasked with monitoring their network for strange activity. If anything suspicious popped up, Gomez and the rest of the team was responsible for finding out what was happening and how to fix it. Many times he had to collaborate with other cybersecurity divisions to quash a potential threat. He was also one of many team members responsible for protecting TV episodes coming out and making sure they didn’t leak to the public. Overall, Gomez enjoyed his time with CBS and learned a lot. “It was a great experience to find out how corporations work, learn the ins and outs of how the job is done and how teams work collaboratively.”

With this experience under his belt, Gomez hopes to continue the expansion of the Computer Science club. He was part of the process that merged a few smaller clubs to form one larger Computer Science club with subsections of Robotics, Information Security and Cybersecurity. This merge was made so that students would have the opportunity to explore multiple interests within one club.

Gomez recently attended Maker Faire, where tech enthusiasts gather to show what they’ve made. He was inspired by some of the events there and is working on bringing those ideas to Adelphi. Drone racing tournaments, BattleBots, and HackerRank tournaments are some of the few activities he would like to see on campus. “The club isn’t meant to be another class, it’s learning combined with fun experiences to enjoy with friends.” Gomez also points out that the club is not just for computer science students, but that anyone can join. “Everyone has different skills. People from different majors such as business, engineering, chemistry and others can all bring something different to the table.”

As the Computer Science club continues to expand, Gomez has advice for newcomers and experts alike. “Try different ways of getting the same result. Different ways to breach into a system, as an example. It’s good to know similar approaches. If you’re working on a project, try to learn something new. It may help you in the future.”

When asked specifically about cybersecurity tips, Gomez says, “You have to be aware and always check for threats. Last semester there was a google doc incident that fooled the best cybersecurity professionals. If the most experienced professionals get fooled into breaking their own rules, anyone is susceptible.”

The future of cybersecurity is daunting. Gomez is considering many options after he graduates in 2018, including pursuing Adelphi’s new M.S. in Computer Science with a specialization in cybersecurity. Regardless of this decision, his internship at CBS and his time with the Computer Science and Cybersecurity clubs give Gomez the experience and skills necessary to be a contributing member of the cybersecurity field.

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