I have many eager groups of 3rd-year students looking to secure a business sponsor to assist them in completing their Technical Project. Prospective sponsors or businesses are sometimes leery to commit, mainly because questions arise as to what exactly their time commitments or expectations will be. As a result, I have put this letter together to help answer your questions or clarify your concerns.
As far as what a student group will be doing, or would like to do, varies based upon the comfort level of each sponsor/business. Initially, the group would like to complete a visual inspection of the site to ascertain a general floor plan and synopsis of the IT equipment in place. This is usually 30 minutes to 1 hour, and the students present their findings to a collected group of Faculty to help us determine the Feasibility of the selected site.
The next visit in about a month’s time, the group would like to administer a brief 1-2 page survey either electronically online or via traditional hard copy. Developing a meaningful survey is a challenging task, one that is well scrutinized at my end, before being released to the business. The purpose of the survey is to determine if the needs of the clients (your staff) are met, with respect to the functional requirements/capabilities of a given Network or portion thereof. On-line surveys are preferred and can be easily managed and administered, paper surveys are left with a key contact for 4-5 days then later collected by a group member.
Next, we would prefer that the students do a Network Analysis, that is, to sample the actual network traffic traversing the Network lines. This is to see if there are any potential problems or issues that could/should be investigated. Such an analysis, called "Sniffing" is yet another valuable learning experience for our students, but can sometimes be met with concern from some of the sponsors we deal with, due to security issues. That being said, the system used to sniff the network is configured by Faculty here at the College and only packet information (number of packets/frames sent across the network, types of protocols, etc.), not data, is analyzed by the students. Confidential company data is not captured or recorded. To help our sponsors better understand our commitment to their security, all students have signed Confidentiality Agreements. Sniffing a sponsor’s site is not a necessity, nor a requirement to participate in this program. Such an activity, although not as meaningful and informative, can still be done in the lab setting at the College.
In total there are 4 main visits the group would need to do, and there may be some incidentals requests as the semester progresses, but usually, all such communications are handled directly through/by their key contact. During the semester, there needs to be one individual acting as the main contact that the group can reach directly. Such contact is necessary in order to confirm appointments and/or answer quick questions about the environment, as such these issues are better served by a phone call or e-mail instead of an onsite visit. The number of calls/e-mails depends upon how well organized the group's questions are, and the availability of such a contact. Usually, 5-6 calls throughout the semester seem to be the average.
We try to be as non-intrusive as possible, and in the end, provide the sponsor with a complete summary of their findings. A copy of the course syllabus/schedule for the Winter 2022 semester will be made available for reference.
I appreciate your interest and support thus far. If there is anything further that you may require of me, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.