By STEVE KUCHERA
NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
May. 20, 2006
Peter Goetsch of Iron River, Wis., will receive his college diploma
today and the opportunity to protect America's computers.
Goetsch, 31, not only graduates from the University of
Wisconsin-Superior with a degree in computer science, but he also has
been accepted into a highly selective national computer security
He will spend two years at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma
learning to safeguard our country's computers.
In exchange for the federally funded education, Goetsch will work as a
computer security expert for the government for at least two years
after he receives his master's degree.
"I'm pretty happy about it," the South Shore High School graduate
said. "It's a great opportunity for me. I am going to get paid to get
my master's. I am just about guaranteed a job when I am done."
Goetsch is the third UWS graduate accepted into the program in four
UWS computer science professor Victor Piotrowski isn't surprised that
another UWS student has won a Federal Cyber Service Scholarship for
Service (commonly called Cyber Corps) award.
"It's more like a confirmation that we are on the right track than a
surprise," he said.
At UWS, Goetsch set up security for the university's advanced computer
lab, and worked with another student on a computer security research
project. He carried a 4.0 grade point average while at the university.
"I look for people who have a passion for the subject," said Sujeet
Shenoi, professor of computer science at Tulsa. "Grades are important,
but grades are not the only thing. Peter is one of those guys who
struck me as being passionate about this stuff and well trained.
"Another thing is I've had two very good students from UWS. I know
what UW-Superior teaches."
The two UWS alumni who attended the Tulsa program -- Lucas
Hendrickson, class of 2004, of Poplar and Mike Swanson, class of 2003,
of Hibbing, both work in computer security for the federal government.
Shenoi directs the Cyber Corps program at Tulsa. Every year about
1,000 people apply for a spot there. About 35 are accepted, he said.
Nationwide, only about 150 students are accepted into the Scholarship
for Service program each year, said Kathy Roberson, program manager.
The federal government created the program to increase the nation's
number of highly trained computer experts, most of whom work with
computer security. The program graduated its first nine students in
"We believe it's a real success," Roberson said. "We've had 416
students who have graduated."
Goetsch is looking forward to joining the ranks.
"I'll be right on the cutting edge," he said. "There will always be
something new coming up. We'll have to come up with ideas faster than
the hackers can or at least be able to shut them down shortly after
Attacks on the Internet and computers have become common. According to
the Computer Emergency Response Team/Coordination Center at Carnegie
Mellon University, there were six such attacks reported in 1988. There
were 137,529 attacks in 2003.
Because of the widespread use of automated attack tools, attacks
against Internet-connected systems have become so commonplace that the
center no longer publishes the number of reported incidents.
Protecting against such attacks is a vital job, Shenoi said.
"I tell my students, 'Make a difference, then make a buck,' " Shenoi
said. "They can serve their country a few years, then join Microsoft
or a beltway bandit. I tell them, 'Our enemies are willing to die for
their cause, can't we at least work hard?' "
=A9 2006 Duluth News Tribune
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