April 1, 2021

Purdue University Global graduate cybersecurity students support Flying HIGH Inc.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Beginning in January, some Purdue University Global students pursuing graduate degrees in information technology and cybersecurity began working with Flying HIGH Inc. to gain experience while lending their topical knowledge to the nonprofit organization in Youngstown, Ohio.

Some of the first projects have been completed, and here is a sampling:

  • Sherri Wheeler, who works in the cybersecurity/information security field in Georgia, delivered a 47-page Information Security Policy based on the NIST cybersecurity framework. She acknowledged Purdue Global for “such a rewarding academic experience and for affording me the opportunity to contribute, in some small way, to the Flying HIGH mission.” 

Flying HIGH Inc. offers a wide variety of community services, including job readiness and placement assistance and a professional development center. Its mission is “to help all people develop their potential and discover their destiny.”

  • Tim Elliot, a security supervisor working for ManTech International in Virginia, also supports the Flying HIGH mission. He curated free security awareness and comprehensive training specific to the organization. Additionally, he delivered checklists for employee orientation training and provided a quick reference guide for those taking the training. Elliot conducted a simulated phishing attack, as well.
  • Jonathon Schumaker, who works as a network systems engineer in Michigan, reviewed Flying HIGH’s current network and provided an improved network design that can be used as the organization grows. Security was a focal point for Schumaker’s work. In addition, he worked with IT vendors in the Youngstown area to get costs for hardware and labor.
  • Sean Hopkins, an intelligence analyst living in South Carolina, analyzed Flying HIGH’s internal systems with a future plan to move some of these systems to the cloud. He also proposed a more cost-effective data backup and restore solution using the cloud.

The volunteer services provided by these students as they completed their degree programs provided benefits that would have cost Flying HIGH a significant amount of funding that it did not have available. This series of projects is intended to be a model for future matching of small businesses in need with graduating Purdue Global students seeking internships and/or employment in their communities or virtual positions supporting multiple organizations.

In August 2020, Flying HIGH founder Jeffrey Magada asked Purdue Global cybersecurity professor Rhonda Chicone to join his volunteer board of directors. Chicone, who is a resident of the Youngstown area, agreed to assess the organization’s information technology infrastructure and information security posture. Because of the organization’s rapid success and growth, opportunities exist for process improvements and upgrades. Chicone identified several projects for Purdue Global students to complete, encompassing the cloud, data analytics, networking and cybersecurity.

“Small businesses often lack the resources to maintain and secure their information technology infrastructure, and Purdue Global graduates can provide the expertise and solutions to support them,” said Tina Burton, associate dean for the Purdue Global School of Business and Information Technology.

Purdue Global has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education for its Bachelor of Science degree in Cybersecurity. The goal of the program is to reduce vulnerability in national information infrastructure by promoting higher education and expertise in cyber defense. A significant part of the NSA/CAE designation is also to support communities, nonprofit agencies and small businesses that might otherwise not have the expertise necessary to operate in a secure manner. Purdue Global maintains a Cybersecurity Center, which includes a link for outreach requests.

About Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global delivers personalized online education tailored to the unique needs of adults who have work or life experience beyond the classroom, enabling them to develop essential academic and professional skills with the support and flexibility they need to achieve their career goals. It offers a hyper-tailored path for students to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, based on their work experience, desired pace, military service, previous college credits and other considerations – no matter where they are in their life journey. Purdue Global serves approximately 36,000 students (as of January 2021), most of whom earn their degree online. Purdue Global is a nonprofit, public university accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. It is affiliated with Purdue University’s flagship institution, a highly ranked public research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue University also operates two regional campuses in Fort Wayne and Northwest Indiana, as well as serving science, engineering and technology students at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus. For more information, please visit purdueglobal.edu 

Media Contact: Tom Schott, 765-427-1721, tschott@purdue.edu

Sources: Tina Burton, TBurton@purdueglobal.edu

Rhonda Chicone, RChicone@purdueglobal.edu

Sherri Wheeler

Tim Elliot

Jonathon Schumaker

Sean Hopkins

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