The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Tag: Faces of GPS (page 1 of 4)

Security and the Internet of Things

By Joseph Dalessandro

October is National Cyber Awareness Month, and we’ll be spotlighting cybersecurity content on the blog all month long.

Love it or despise it, the Internet of Things (IoT) has forever altered human thinking and interaction. Increased telemetry from our bodies through wearable tech and app analysis of data about our health and personal space has led to discovery, identification and interactions with others through apps and smart devices that is the new norm. How will this explosion of devices change our mission objective as security leaders and professionals?

The term IoT is generally applied to “endpoint” objects such as devices, wearables, cameras, chips, toys, and other objects that can be accessed through a connection such as WiFi or other carrier signals and interacted with via the internet. Examples that have become pervasive would be FitBit wearable’s, iWatches, Alexa or Google Home devices, Nest thermostats, and medical devices such as insulin pumps. While these devices are limited in capability, often just one or two functions or a binary state of on/off, the numbers of devices and the absence of uniform minimum security standards from manufacturers present a problem (several actually) for our IT departments Infrastructure management and security professional.

We can easily find statistics about the number of devices that have emerged in earnest since 2008. The 2017 Cisco Visual Networking Index provides a comprehensive view of some of those numbers. Two of my favorite highlights from this report include:

  • There will be 3.5 networked devices per capita by 2021 (global population 7.875 times 3.5)
  • IP traffic in North America will reach 85 EB per month by 2021 (And North America will not be the highest trafficked global region)

While I am not sure where that bandwidth comes from (I cannot get great consistently streaming bandwidth for Netflix sometimes), what worries me more is patching, tracking and controlling devices. Now, I am not suggesting we control all devices, but I need to control the ones that are on my network because they will increase the potential surface of attack for our networks by orders of magnitude. The more devices you add, outside of implemented and effective controls, the quicker your organization will suffer a breach. Therefore, if you don’t get roles such as patching right you will be lost under the crushing weight of IoT adoption rates. We have to get the “basics” right to ensure we have a foundation capable of integrating IoT devices. We will also need to assess risk and device configuration and a number of other areas we will not venture into here.

In the world of cyber security, people and data are what we most are accustomed to thinking about protecting and defending against. How do we wrap our heads around the potential problems of IoT where the numbers are so much higher? I would submit that we undertake the following approach:

  1. Get the basics right. There will be a lot of debate about what “get the basics right” means but at a high level, I am referring to:
  • Have a comprehensive security program based on risk, with regular assessments
  • Identify where all your data is located and ensure it is appropriately categorized
  • User access, and privileged access, is controlled and re-certified (access for IoT devices as well)
  • Network traffic is premeditated and segmented and network information is logged and monitored (must also scale)
  • Systems management has KPI’s and documented configuration baselines or employs a CMDB
  • Change Management and patching are religiously observed and followed
  • There is a formal incident management/response process (and adjust and augment IR for IoT)
  • There is a crisis and contingency management plan that is tested and updated annually

Yup, that was just step 1. Get all this right and you can start to think about being able to control IoT in your ecosystem.

2. Determine the level of increased risk, or changed risk, related to data loss or breach from #3.

3. Augment your information management or data governance policies and processes to encompass IoT increased data creation and interaction.

4. Determine the physical limits or extensions of IoT devices. Can users outside your physical location use devices or access devices inside your physical location? Do you need to limit (or attempt to limit) the carrier signal outside your four walls?

5. Hire a competent and qualified leader to bridge between security and IT. Brandeis Information Security Leadership graduates are great candidates.

IoT is a big problem that can seem overwhelming, where unpatched devices can increase your threat surface by orders of magnitude. Remember, getting the basics right will see you treating IoT with the same risk strategy that has allowed you to manage technology risk.

Joseph (Joe) Dalessandro is the program chair of the Information Security Leadership program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies, and the Head of Security & Technology Audit and Audit Data Analytics, Australian Unity.

Brandeis GPS offers a Master’s of Science in Information Security Leadership. The part-time, fully online program prepares graduates for leadership roles in information security with a cutting-edge, industry relevant curriculum that builds leadership savvy and skill in leveraging technical know-how. For more information, contact gps@brandeis.edu, call 781-736-8787 or visit www.brandeis.edu/gps.

Image source: https://www.personneltoday.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2015/06/wearable-tech-wearable-technology.jpg

Information Security has the perfect mindset to facilitate decision-support red teaming

By Joseph Dalessandro

October is National Cyber Awareness Month, and we’ll be spotlighting cybersecurity content on the blog all month long.

We hear the term “red team” liberally used these days, applied in the security space for both force-on-force scenario testing (subverting hardened facilities and assets) and in the information security space, primarily referring to “white hat” hacking to assess security posture for systems, devices, network perimeters and web applications.

A “red teamer” in the decision support or strategic space is formally trained and uses critical thinking tools and techniques to provoke analysis, stress test strategies, plans and perspectives. At the heart of this work is the modeling or reframing of the problem space from the adversaries perspective.  Red teamers and Security Pros are by nature contrarians, and it is this contrarian mindset we want to capitalize on.

While cybersecurity “red teaming” as penetration testing is vital to an organization’s testing of its security and data protection posture, it has a narrow scope. However, everyone these days in this space wants to refer to his or her work as red teaming. The practice of decision support red teaming is the area that I am submitting an organization can immediately benefit from and are not currently employing. This is an area where your security team can add value by adopting the tools and techniques to facilitate red teaming. Information security professionals are diverse thinkers and often “see” across the entire enterprise. Equipping them with red team tools and techniques can enhance their value in guiding the organization to make better decisions.

Red teaming and the value of a premortem

So how do we do it?  How do we immediately capitalize on our existing stance as contrarians to serve as strategic red teamers? There are a number of available tools such as the U.S.Army’s Applied Critical Thinking Handbook, and Bryce Hoffman’s Red Teaming. We start with, most importantly, is buy-in and genuine support from the top of the organization, and the admission that we will trust our decision to conduct red team analysis and we will be true to the results. There are a number of short tools to use to try this, one of the most straightforward is to have your security staff conduct a premortem on your most important security project for the upcoming year.

The basic approach of the premortem is to visualize, prospectively, about the project failing and using this to illuminate the cause(s) of the failure.  This is not a risk assessment. We are not speculating on what could harm our project, we are identifying what actually caused the failure. This is pathology; we are engaged in diagnosis, not prognosis. Supplies needed are easy to acquire, you will need paper or index cards and pens/pencils and a white board or projector.

  • The leader (security staff facilitator) level sets with the group by reading out the summary from the business case or a summarized version of the project. The leader tells everybody that they should assume that their team, the project team, has made the decision to go forward and that the project has gone forward and has concluded. We are in the future now, a year into the future, and the project has been an utter failure. It has crashed and burned with no redeeming outcome or benefit.
  • Exercise: Each player (project team member) takes the paper in front of him/her and writes a brief narrative or cause of the failure. Take 5 minutes and work in silence.
  • The facilitator collects the paper or cards and generates a list of all the points on a whiteboard or projector. The facilitator can now work with the group to solicit further failure ideas, inspired by the list.
  • Engage in a game to further determine the top five causes for the failure. [A practical note here: if you conduct a premortem and determine a set of failures that are agreed universally by the group as being actual failures, you have a fundamental problem with your project. Stop it immediately and take a step back and rethink the plan.]

Red teaming is best conducted with as diverse a group as possible, and often times those who have had the least to do with the project plan formation can provide insights into points of failure. As you look to expand your tool set in the future, a master’s degree in security leadership can help engender this contrarian mindset and improve the value of security in your organization.

Joseph (Joe) Dalessandro is the program chair of the Information Security Leadership program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies, and the Head of Security & Technology Audit and Audit Data Analytics, Australian Unity.

Brandeis GPS offers a Master’s of Science in Information Security Leadership. The part-time, fully online program prepares graduates for leadership roles in information security with a cutting-edge, industry relevant curriculum that builds leadership savvy and skill in leveraging technical know-how. For more information, contact gps@brandeis.edu, call 781-736-8787 or visit www.brandeis.edu/gps

Image source: LeadX.org

Meet our newest GPS faculty members

The first week of the October session is here and we are excited to introduce the newest Brandeis GPS faculty members. These industry leaders come to Brandeis GPS with expertise and established networks within their fields. We have no doubt that the knowledge and experience they bring will provide for meaningful learning opportunities in the online classroom.

Garrett Gillin – RDMD 110: Principals of Search Engine Marketing

Garret Gillin Headshot

Garrett Gillin, MBA, is a co-founder and Principal at 215 Marketing, a Google Premier Partner agency located in Philadelphia, PA, where he oversees the development and execution of integrated digital marketing initiatives with a concentration on programmatic advertising, marketing automation, and advanced analytics.

Todd Chapin – RUCD 185: Design for Non-screen User Experiences

Todd Chapin HeadshotTodd Chapin is a co-founder and Chief Product Officer at ShopClerk.ai. He has experience in product management and UX, as well as expertise in personal mobility, speech recognition, and e-commerce. He has worked at Zipcar, Audible, and Nuance Communications. He has graduate and undergraduate degrees in Human Factors Engineering from Tufts University.

Ernest Green – RSAN 160: Predictive Analytics

Ernest Green Headshot

Ernest Green MS, MBA, PMP, is Vice President of Data Mining at a large financial institution in Dallas, TX. Prior to this role, he worked as a Data Scientist with General Motors and has 10+ years of diverse analytics experience. He holds multiple college degrees and most recently completed a Master’s in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. His research and expertise are in analytics, machine learning, natural language processing and artificial intelligence.

We are so pleased to welcome these new faculty members to Brandeis GPS and look forward to seeing how they bring their expertise to their online classrooms.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Top 10 data scientist Charles Givre becomes new Strategic Analytics program chair

Headshot of Charles GivreBrandeis GPS is delighted to announce the appointment of Charles Givre, MA, CISSP, as the new chair of our online MS in Strategic Analytics program.

In his role as chair, Charles ensures high course quality and provides the industry insights that keep the program’s goals and outcomes current and relevant. He also recruits and mentors faculty, and advises students on program and course requirements.

Charles is a Vice President and Lead Data Scientist at Deutsche Bank in the Chief Security Office (CSO), where he leads an international team of data scientists working on security challenges. He has a passion for solving difficult problems with data and using data in unique ways to drive business decisions. In fact, Charles was recently named as one of the Top 10 Data Scientists you need to know right now by Enterprise Management 360.

With over 10 years of experience in the intelligence community in various organizations, Charles has a lot to share with the data science community. Charles regularly presents classes and presentations at international conferences including Strata, BlackHat and the Open Data Science Conference. His research interests include adversarial machine learning as well as improving analytic efficiency. He is a committer to the Apache Drill project and has co-authored a book on the topic.

Charles received undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Music from the University of Arizona before getting his MA from Brandeis University. Then, he went on to work at the CIA and Booz Allen Hamilton before starting in his role at Deutsche Bank.

Learn more about the part-time, online Master’s of Science in Strategic Analytics here.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Meet Theo Groh: Founding Partner of Wheelhouse Web and Student of Brandeis GPS

Business owner and matriculated student at Brandeis GPS uses knowledge from Master’s program to grow his business and help achieve long-term professional goals.

Theo Groh is a matriculated student in the Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies (GPS) Master of Science in Digital Marketing and Design. Theo was hesitant to go back to school while working full-time growing his business, Wheelhouse Web – a web, communications, and marketing solutions company based in New Hampshire. Theo is three classes into his degree, and is already seeing GPS help with his long-term professional goals:

  • To build his new company into a thriving and financially stable company that can provide full time employment, benefits, and a growing return to himself and his business partners.
  • To develop his marketing skills to truly have his company be a one stop shop for digital marketing.
  • To grow his company to the point that allows them to take only the clients they absolutely want to take and allows them to work with clients promoting social or environmental change.

Headshot of Theo GrohTheo is among many students who are full-time professionals that are looking to enhance their careers with the benefits of a high-quality graduate education in niche fields with the convenience and flexibility of online learning designed for working professionals.

He has already made progress toward his professional goals, and says that, “So far, GPS has helped me expand the range of digital marketing services I offer and boost my confidence in my skill set. I believe it has also helped strengthen my professional resume, which has helped attract and retain clients.”

What first caught Theo’s attention about GPS was that it is completely online, allowing him to work full-time, is practical and relevant to the work he wants to do, and doesn’t require GRE or standardized test scores.

“I really liked that the degree was specifically in Digital Marketing and Design, not just in Marketing or an MBA with a marketing focus,” said Groh. “That was important because if I was going to go back to school, I wanted a degree that was very specific to the field I was in, very relevant to the work I was doing, and could help me in my business by helping certify to clients that I knew what I was doing.”

GPS offers 13 different master’s Programs in professional fields:

Theo says, “I think what I value the most about GPS is that I am in a class full of working professionals in my field being taught by an expert working professional in my field.”

GPS instructors are industry leaders who also work full-time outside of GPS, bringing real-world experiences and knowledge to their classrooms. And because class sizes are capped at 20 for GPS classes, students like Theo can network within their classes to build connections within their fields.

Before founding his new company in July 2017, Theo worked in New Hampshire politics, independent school admissions, outreach, and marketing. His education at Brandeis GPS has also enriched his political volunteer commitments and outside hobbies. Since starting his most recent class, Writing for Digital Environments, Theo has taken on a long-term personal goal of online food writing, committing to do a monthly blog post on local New Hampshire food and drinks for Stay-Work-Play New Hampshire.

Theo’s experiences in politics, which may seem unrelated to Digital Marketing and Design, informed his work ethic and gave him experiences that help him bring diverse experience to his business and his classes. He says of his time working in politics,

“During that time, I was working 14-18-hour days 7 days a week for months on end during campaign season… I learned that I had it in me to do that kind of work. Like doing endurance training, my experience working in politics showed me what I was made of and taught me what my capabilities and limits were. If I could work long hours in an extremely high-pressure environment for low pay in politics, often for challenging bosses, I knew I was capable of working hard and succeeding in almost any environment. It taught me not to be afraid of hard work and gave me the confidence I needed to start my own business.”

Theo’s business “aims to be the trusted web design and digital marketing choice of dynamic small businesses, striving non-profits, and thriving schools.”

In order to help him reach his goals and the goals of his company, his MS in Digital Marketing and Design at GPS offers the following program outcomes:

  • Build and actively manage digital marketing campaigns across social media, website and mobile platforms.
  • Have a comprehensive working knowledge of digital and social media platforms.
  • Write appropriate content for online and digital audiences.
  • Develop thorough digital marketing campaigns that integrate multiple channels.
  • Track results of digital advertising through analytics tools and use the data to inform future marketing decisions.
  • Use advanced media tools to enhance digital strategies.
  • Communicate the value of digital marketing as it relates to an organization’s overall marketing strategy.

Theo has found that his class assignments help his real-world experiences in business, and says, “I really love the assignments where we have to pick existing companies and talk about how they do on a particular aspect of marketing. I think it’s a great way to learn, and it helps me with my company because a big part of what we do with our small business clients is going in and analyzing what they are currently doing for digital marketing and providing them with advice and services to improve their marketing. I also like the assignment we have in [Writing for Digital Environments] of picking an organization or business that needs help with their marketing. I think it’s a great challenge, something I love to do in my business, and this assignment is helping me think about the best ways of doing that.”

Not only have his GPS classes enhanced his professional life already, but Theo’s professional experiences have enhanced his learning. In his GPS classes, he engages in discussions with professionals at varying levels of their careers in the Digital Marketing and Design field, allowing for rich learning from instructors and peers.

Content contributed by Digital Marketing and Design student Lily Gardner with permission.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Set Your GPS, the Next Stop is Your Dream Job

A Boston-area native finds Brandeis GPS Digital Marketing and Design program course offerings align best with her professional goals.

Brittany Sullivan grew up in Norwood, MA about 25 minutes outside of Boston. It’s also about 17 minutes from the Reebok International Headquarters, a place Brittany has wanted to work at for as long as she can remember.

Brittany Sullivan Brittany set her sights on becoming the next digital marketing manager at Reebok, something she would need to work very hard for. But that hard work is not without its rewards, including better job prospects and a higher annual salary. According to a 2015 Georgetown University study called “The Economic Value of College Majors”: “College graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn an average annual salary of $61,000 over the course of their career, while those with a graduate degree earn $78,000 annually.” With undergraduate degrees becoming more common, a master’s degree can really give you added skills and more confidence to pursue and land your dream job.

Some of the subjects Brittany felt passionate about weren’t offered during her undergraduate degree in marketing. Her college offered more generic marketing classes that didn’t focus on digital media. She researched a few different programs, but found the list of courses offered by Brandeis GPS to be the most focused on her professional goals.

Why Enroll at Brandeis GPS?

Brandeis GPS works around your schedule. There are many students currently enrolled who also work a full-time job, just like Brittany. Because Brandeis GPS offers part-time online classes, students can work full time and study when it’s convenient for them. Not sure if a master’s program is for you? Or are you worried about the increased workload? Brandeis GPS will let you take two classes as a trial before officially applying to the program. This can help a potential student gauge if he/she will be able to continue working a full-time job and attend class in-person or online. Recent college grads who are new to the workforce might not be ready to work and take classes at the same time.

Brittany knew she was interested in marketing, but things can change. Brandeis GPS offers 12 master’s degrees, from software engineering to project management. Brittany had the freedom to change and not have to leave the GPS program. But she was concerned about working a full-time job and going to school. In fact, she was all set to take two classes, but after meeting with her student adviser, she decided to start with one and see how it went.

Need Directions?

Everyone learns in different ways and at different speeds. There are a lot of questions to ask yourself before getting a master’s degree at any school, like how long you intend on working in your chosen field, or if there are any financial concerns. Student advisers can help answer these questions and more. Let them be your guide through this exciting transition into higher education.

The GPS program offers small classes, giving the instructor more time for 1-on-1 interaction. Every instructor has virtual office hours or can meet virtually by appointment.

For students who have never taken an online class, the structure can seem foreign at first and maybe a little intimidating. Brittany could continue working at her job, thanks to the flexibility that online classes offer.  GPS faculty are trained to teach online, so that you can focus on learning. In addition to extra training, professors are active professionals in their fields to ensure you are receiving the most up-to-date information and instruction. Even during online classes, students are encouraged to comment on their peers’ work, some assignments also will require students to work as a group.

The Road Ahead

“We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”
― Henry Ward Beecher

By the end of Brittany’s graduate program, she will be one step closer to her dream job at Reebok. She will be a valuable employee because she invested in her future.

This is Brittany’s first course at Brandeis and there will be many more. She knows she is on the right path with the Brandeis GPS program.

Content contributed by Digital Marketing and Design student Andrew Scarella with permission.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Challenge Accepted: This Student Chose to Ride the Wave to Overcome Tragedy

Enjoying the flexibility of GPS courses, a Brandeis employee balances online graduate school with her other passions.

The ocean waves – their swooshing sound, their sparkle in the distance – are soothing to her eyes and mind. Gazing at the momentum of each wave as they crash against the shore offers a sense of serenity to it. The seemingly endless horizon breeds purity that helps take her away from what life’s struggles might have brought her. And it is with this meditative enjoyment of nature’s raw beauty that she finds complacency in life. As each wave crawls up the shore to makes its mark on the duney sand, it represents an accomplishment that which she is proud of.

Victoria Felson in Maine

Meet Victoria Felson: beachgoer and student at Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies (GPS).

Take One.

Victoria has a simplistic mentality that she garnered after an unfortunate tragedy she and her family suffered eight years ago. It was not easy at first to pursue a graduate degree when trying to overcome life-altering, personal distress. Her first attempt at grad school washed up quickly like a small wave that barely makes a ripple in the ocean. The ambition and desire was there, but Victoria’s life still had not quite settled down. She did not give up then though.

With each day there are many more waves to catch and grab hold of, many opportunities to embrace. As some waves reach their crest and dive back into the ocean, they have an almost inviting look. They crash back into the ocean with a sense of hopefulness and gleam the possibility of success. One day, Victoria saw a wave and did not take her eyes off of it. She saw herself diving back in with the wave headfirst, arms overhead, and with a bright smile on her face. It was time to earn her Master’s degree.

Take Two.

After learning from her co-workers that Brandeis GPS offers 100% online degrees, Victoria knew the program was a strong fit. Positive feedback from others already enrolled in the Digital Marketing and Design program reeled her in to take advantage of the free courses as a Brandeis employee. In reviewing other MBA programs, she noticed that they tended to offer only live classes at scheduled times during the week, and most of the student were full-time. Scheduled class times were not an option for Victoria, so the flexible online setting that Brandeis GPS offers has allowed her to balance school with work and her social life. Thanks to the ability to complete her degree as a part-time student as well, Victoria can still frequent Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA and fit schoolwork into her schedule comfortably. Considering a day away at the beach is like a vacation to her, she is not willing to compromise on that one. Victoria is pleased that she been able to further herself while still enjoy her passions in life.

As an older staff member with only an undergraduate degree, Victoria knows she needs to learn and acquire new skills so her background is not outdated. The real perk is that should Victoria decide to take a different path with Brandeis GPS, she still has until the end of her second course to matriculate into a program and still be able to apply the courses. The other beauty of Brandeis GPS is the integration between the programs. Many courses in various programs intersect with each other so Victoria is gaining a diverse skill set that can be applied to her work in a multi-faceted manner.

Life’s Other Pleasures.

Aside from the beach, some of Victoria’s other interests are walking in state parks, doing yoga, going to the pool in her condo complex, and tending to her patio garden filled with perennials. She enjoys being challenged by what perennials bloom in the sun, not requiring much maintenance and showing brilliant colors, just as her classwork challenges her to remain current with her skills and knowledge in the growing digital world. With the courses taught by professionals actively working in their respective fields, Victoria is gaining relevant expertise to apply to her work. As a senior support professional to the Vice President of alumni relations in the Institutional Advancement Division at Brandeis University, she has done some digital marketing in the past and plans to in the future. As she progresses with her courses though, she plans to find a job in marketing to directly apply the learned concepts on a regular basis. Victoria is confident that her Brandeis degree will present herself as a marketable candidate for employers that offer higher paying positions. Maybe she will look to expand her garden at that point, buy a house or merely enjoy the occasional overnight stay near Crane Beach with her boyfriend.

Nature’s beauty truly lures Victoria in to learn more, both in life in general and about herself. She uses nature as a catalyst to reflect and continue onward and upward. And progress she has! In a famous line by Frederick Douglass, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” Life is not always quite as sympathetic as one might like to think. Some of us are challenged in ways – mentally and emotionally – that we do not want to be. But it is with these unfortunate circumstances that we are given the opportunity to learn things about ourselves that we might not know were true. Victoria used her tragedy as motivation to press the reset button and embark on the exciting challenge of pursuing her Master’s degree with Brandeis GPS. A flexible class schedule, experienced faculty, and applicable coursework have all given her the balance in life that she has been seeking for some time.

Take Three.

When asked if she would have chosen Brandeis University given the opportunity to start over again, Victoria said, “I’m very satisfied with GPS. If all things were the same, yes, I’d choose the same school.” Victoria is gaining more fulfillment in her life, both professionally and personally, since beginning to take courses with Brandeis GPS. The current of her life is a steady flow nowadays. The horizon is looking brighter and the ocean a bit calmer. Victoria is still gazing at that wave and will continue until she walks across the stage, degree in hand.

Content contributed by  Digital Marketing and Design student Casey Ducinski with permission. 

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

UXPA Boston Student Recap | Part 2

Brandeis GPS was a proud sponsor of the 2018 UXPA Boston annual conference. This week, we’re featuring a two-part series on how the conference was experienced through the eyes of two students in the MS in User-Centered Design. Read Part 1 here.

By Craig Cailler, as told in his own words:

The Boston Chapter of the User Experience Professionals’ Association held their annual conference at the Sheraton Boston Hotel on Thursday, May 10, 2018. I have attended this event for many years and watched it grow from a few hundred people hosted at local university, to over one thousand people attending sessions occupying multiple ball rooms in a large hotel in downtown Boston. This year was something special as the team at UXPA Boston was able to promote an appearance by industry veteran, Rolf Molich, from DialogDesign in Denmark in Europe. President of UXPA Boston, Dan Berlin, posted this to his Twitter account about the occasion, “Rolf Molich presenting CUE-10 results at #UXPABOS18 makes me feel like we’ve finally hit the big time.” It was truly a special moment for the team, and the conference, as they prove again that this has become one of the premier annual events with the industry.

This first session I attended this year was, “CPUX – A Serious (and Usable?) European Attempt at Certifying UX Professionals” presented by Rolf Molich. The International Usability and UX Qualification Board is composed of UX professionals from across Europe that develop and maintain the curricula for the purpose of introducing usability to new practitioners, keeping active practitioners current and establishing common terminology and technologies across the industry. The CPUX offers several levels of certification, covering topics such as Human-centered design process, Definitions, Understanding of context of use, User requirements, Design solutions, Usability tests and Inspections and user surveys. During the session, Rolf “quizzed” the audience with sample questions used in the certification process using an online live polling software. Rolf closed out the session by telling the audience that the team at UXQB were looking for sponsors here in the United States to begin providing this training, so keep your eyes out for future CPUX classes in our area.

I was also introduced to several new tools as part of other presentations. In the session entitled, “Through Their Eyes: Using VR to Simulate Retinal Diseases”, Jessica Holt-Carr and Weiwei Huang walked the audience through the process they used to build empathy for disabled users who suffer with visual impairments by using low vision simulation kits. Jessica and Weiwei explained how they used an Android application called SimViz (In My Eyes – iOS alternative) in conjunction with a hand-made cardboard device that held the mobile device comfortable on participants while blocking out all light sources. Jessica summarized the benefits of this approach as:

  • Identifies accessibility barriers
  • Seeing the world from their view
  • Raises awareness to the issue

In another session entitled, “Digital whiteboarding and other techniques for remote collaboration and ideation”, the team of Kristina Beckley and Ethan Perry from IBM spoke to the audience about a digital whiteboarding tool called “Mural” as part of the presentation. They discussed how they used the tool to collect input from global team members as part of their global design process that includes “Hills, Playbacks and Sponsor Users”. They provided the audience with some best practices based on their use of the tool including…

  • Timebox the process
  • Make sure people are contributing
  • Setup separate rooms, 8-12 people each

UXPA Boston Student Recap | Part 1

Brandeis GPS was a proud sponsor of the 2018 UXPA Boston annual conference. This week, we’re featuring a two-part series on how the conference was experienced through the eyes of two students in the MS in User-Centered Design. Read Part 2 here.

By Roslyn Jones, as told in her own words:

I had a great experience at the UXPA Boston conference. There were so many great professionals and organizations to network with. My most important takeaways derived from the organization networking space, Making Websites Readable discussion and the Mentoring forum.

Within the organization networking space, I was able to connect with multiple companies that were either offering User Experience (UX) job positions or showcasing tools valuable to the UX industry. The pictured MPACT game-like persona builder, which is picture below, is a creatively innovative tool that aids teams in creating persona profiles. The representatives at each table were so pleasant and were eager to speak to each attendee about the services that their businesses provide. Also, it was a pleasure meeting student advisor Daniel Mongeon at the Brandeis GPS table. As I continued to explore the different tables, I stumbled upon the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), an academic, professional, service based engineering organization. It was great connecting with them and speaking with other conference attendees about its purpose.

The Making Websites Readable session provided methods to enhance the readability of a website in a fun and engaging way. They incorporated storytelling, comic strips, and a web-redesign exercise to deliver their 7 Tips for Web Style. The session started off with an animated reading of a Pearls Before Swine comic strip, which was nothing short of entertaining. This led us into analyzing a poorly designed website created specifically for this demonstration. I like how Jen Kramer and Martha Nichols continuously engaged the audience, maintained high energy throughout the presentation and presented takeaways that were short, simple, and useful. Their 7 Tips for Web Style are:

  1. Keep it short
  2. Add snappy headings
  3. Find your focus
  4. Make a list
  5. Get specific
  6. Adjust visuals
  7. Use your words wisely

During the Mentoring Session, I obtained perspectives from two professionals who have years of UX experience. Our mentee group consisted of seven individuals who are new to UX.  Throughout this session we received great tips on how to position ourselves to impress a manager or other UX hiring executive. My key takeaways from this session involved tips for figuring out how to make yourself more marketable in the field. This includes, being able to communicate with industry professionals, understanding and portraying knowledge of the process, showcasing your relative skills, and participating in events that strengthen and highlight these relative skills.

Susan Carman brings decades of expertise, leadership to Health and Medical Informatics

Susan Carman, HMI chairBrandeis GPS is thrilled to announce the hiring of Susan Carman, MS, CHCIO, PMP, as program chair of the online MS in Health and Medical Informatics.

In her role as chair, Susan serves as the subject matter expert for the program, providing the industry insights that keep the program’s curriculum and outcomes current and relevant.

Susan is the Chief Information Officer at UHS Hospitals and has served in the healthcare information technology and informatics industry for a total of 28 years. Prior to her current role, Susan was the VP of Information Technology at Wingate Healthcare, implementing an EMR system and building a HIPAA security plan for their 19 Post Acute Care facilities.

Susan spent 15 years of her career at Medical Information Technology (MEDITECH) implementing Electronic Medical Records throughout the U.S. and Canada. She transitioned to the Healthcare Provider sector in 2004 starting with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and more recently at Hebrew Senior Life, leading her team to complete the implementation of Stage 6 EMR system. Susan is certified as a Healthcare CIO (CHCIO) and Project Manager (PMP) and is an active member of HIMSS (Health Information Management Systems Society) and CHIME (College of Healthcare Information Management Executives). She is also an active participant in the Executive Mentorship Program with ACHE (American College of Healthcare Executives). Susan completed her Master’s degree in Healthcare Informatics at the University of Massachusetts in 2013.

Learn more about the part-time, online Master’s of Science in Health and Medical Informatics here.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

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