“It’s all about the students” – This was my answer to the question “Why do you teach?” posed to me few weeks ago by an industry professional. Preparing students for their future careers in the digital forensic / incident response / cyber security industries is something that I really enjoy. It’s also one ways I can contribute to the cyber security / computer forensic / incident response industries. Granted, I still practice digital forensics with Vermont local/state/federal law enforcement and at the Senator Patrick Leahy Center for Digital Investigation but my primary position is to teach. And for the record – for those that I haven’t met in person, I’m not your stereotypical “ivory tower academic” by any means.
In order for students to really get passionate about something, they need to feel that passion from the professors teaching the courses. This is one of my secrets of success – “Do what you love and to the best of your ability and everything will take care of itself”. As a computer forensic professor at Champlain College I’m given the opportunity to mold the minds of the future cyber worriers. The college has allowed me to rewrite most of the undergraduate curriculum to keep standards high, while allowing for cutting edge material to be incorporated into lectures and hands on activities.
On April 3, 2012 the Princeton Review’s Best 300 Professor list was released. I’m very honored to say that I was included on this list as the only Digital Forensic Professor. Needless to say I know there are many (many) excellent professors teaching this area, which is why I’m hoping to see more recognized in the next cycle. For the past five years teaching in higher education I’ve learned a lot from industry experts, students, colleagues including faculty here at Champlain College and others who I collaborate with from across the world. I hope only to continue to help students and others by continuing to collaborate in the future.
|Best 300 Professors Book Cover|
Jonathan Rajewski, MS, CCE, EnCe, CISSP, CFE
Assistant Professor of Digital Forensics, Champlain College
“Through our faculty’s ongoing connections to and work with local law enforcement and the digital forensics industry, we’re able to bring the current trends of digital forensics—all those rapid evolutions that are happening outside in the field—into the classroom every day,” says Jonathan Rajewski, an assistant professor of digital forensics at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. “And students here are benefitting tremendously from that experience.”
Previously employed as a senior consultant for a global consulting firm where he travelled the world conducting and managing digital forensics investigations, professor Rajewski is not only a faculty member at Champlain, but he is also the co-director/principle investigator of the Champlain College Center for Digital Investigation (C3DI) and an examiner for the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Recently named the “Digital Forensic Investigator of the Year” by Forensic 4cast, professor Rajewski is as passionate about teaching and empowering students to become leading-edge digital forensics professionals as he is about the exiting work of digital forensics itself.
Despite the relative complexity and unfamiliarity of most people with the field, professor Rajewski is committed to giving his students a complete education in digital forensics from the ground up. “Incoming students don’t need to be ‘techie’-type people,” says professor Rajewski, “they need to be people who love to learn and apply knowledge. So you don’t need to come in as computer expert to be hugely successful in this program—our first-year foundational courses give you all the grounding you need.” His students agree, saying through his classes, “you will NEVER be confused.”
Students also report that professor Rajewski “cares about what we think of the class and makes changes accordingly,” and he “goes the extra mile to make sure you understand the information being presented.” Very technical topics are broken down into laymen terms, followed by him showing the class “how it actually applies to the subject.” He also gives real-time demonstrations when someone asks a question, then has the students apply that topic to a hands-on activity. “This method reaches all learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners,” professor Rajewski says.
Through this detailed, hands-on approach to learning, his students gain mastery-level understanding of the subject matter. “I want students to become experts,” says professor Rajewski. “The Champlain digital forensics curriculum has been built around what the industry needs. We polled the industry and studied job descriptions to find out what skills the industry is requiring for certain positions in the field, and we’ve created courses to match those needs.” This industry-based curriculum has been highly successful for students and grads alike: last year, recruiters from major consulting firms and government agencies came to Champlain College for the express purpose of interviewing Champlain’s digital forensics majors for summer internships and full-time positions—a high percentage of students were hired as a result of those meetings. “It’s really impressive that the employers come to us seeking out our students,” says professor Rajewski.
Professor Rajewski says that in addition to the depth of forensics course offerings, digital forensic majors get unparalleled experience in the Champlain College Center for Digital Investigations(C3DI) working in a real digital forensics investigation lab. “What our students become capable of doing is tremendous,” he says. “A big part of that is the experiences they have working in C3DI conducting the digital forensics research that helps local law enforcement solve actual cases. It’s also an amazing resume builder.”
Professors Rajewski’s teaching style is as hands-on as his students’ educational experience in Champlain’s digital forensics. program. Each course is presented differently, and Professor Rajewski tends to draw from experience and tell stories about why the
discussion topic is important for the students to understand. By their senior year, students are well prepared to take the Capstone course in which they conduct research into a ‘new’ technology and create a presentation and report of how they would forensically analyze a device or Internet service. “This year, many of our students conducted research that hasn’t been done before, making new discoveries—a number of papers they wrote have a high probability of being published in digital forensic industry publications,” professor Rajewski reports. “Now, that’s truly impressive.”
It’s all about the results with professor Rajewski. And, he’s proud of what his current and former students have achieved already. “Our students come from all over the world,” he says. “And we’ve seen them land positions with local law enforcement, the federal government, the Department of Homeland security and other Department of Defense agencies as well as government contractors and consulting firms from across the country.”
Five other Champlain College professors were recognized in the book. Here is a list of names and links to their college profiles:
- Eric Ronis: http://www.champlain.edu/directory/ronis-eric.html
- Alan Stracke: http://www.champlain.edu/directory/stracke-alan.html
- John Rogate: http://www.champlain.edu/directory/rogate-john.html
- J.C. Ellefson: http://www.champlain.edu/directory/ellefson-j.html
- Janice Gohm Webster: http://www.champlain.edu/directory/gohm-webster-janice.html