By Brandon Layne
This year marked the 30th annual IT Conference for Partners in Business. As an organization, Partners has always strived to bring students and professionals together in a learning setting, and this year has been no exception. The topics this year were narrowed to “Data Analytics” and “Security.” The idea this year was not only to have specific subjects that attendees could choose, but also our team went to great lengths to bring in some of the best minds on these subjects from all over the nation.
For security we went into this knowing that the subject in IT is quite broad so we brought in specialists that focused on different aspects of security. David Thaw, a law professor from Connecticut helped pass Cyber Security Laws before congress. He was able to comprehensively explain what the laws are and how they relate to us as consumers and businesses. His presentation slides as of right now are the most requested piece of information since the conference has ended.
To complement David, we brought in Branson Matheson from NASA who literally teaches classes on hacking. He taught about social engineering and how it can be used to manipulate you into giving away more information than you should. Unbeknownst to us, he posted papers around the conference simply stating, “If you want a prize, text this number." In his presentation, he showed the list of people who blindly sent their information to a stranger because they didn’t think to question it. That activity made for a pretty powerful example of the vulnerabilities in social engineering.
For those more interested in Big Data or Data Analytics, we wanted to focus on teaching business owners what they should do with the data that they already had. We brought in Zachary Howes, Service Engineering Manager for Microsoft, to talk about an under-the-hoods view of what it takes to process over 7 billion rows of telemetry a minute for Microsoft services. He taught about different ways that Microsoft is changing and adapting to handle its constantly growing organization. Our other speakers, Neil Nickolaisen, Richard Wellman, and John Johnson, focused on different techniques to sorting and visualizing the data that you have.
Our opening keynote was Cydni Tetro who works for Disney and specializes in 3D printing. She taught us about what the realistic future of 3D printing is and how it will change many things for the better at a lower cost.
I would say that overall, the students and attendees who participated came away with a better understanding of the power of data and information, the importance of security, and the steps we all need to take to stay ahead of these ever changing technologies.