For two School of Information Technologies alums, the chance to present at the 2016 Tulsa TechFest was an opportunity to share the experience and knowledge they’ve gained on the job and during their time as students at OSU Institute of Technology.
Jessica Hollis, a laboratory specialist, and Joel Sallee, assistant lab manager and senior forensic specialist, both now work at Avansic E-Discovery and Digital Forensics in Tulsa after each earning a Bachelor of Technology in Data Assurance and Cyber Forensics from OSUIT.
Hollis, who graduated in 2015, said she believes computer crimes will become one of the leading types of criminal cases.
“Because of health problems, I’m unable to go into a field where I physically go out and nab bad guys. Digital forensics was a way for me to do so but more behind the scenes and not as physically strenuous,” she said. “I want to help make the world a better place, and with cyber crime becoming more evident every year, this was the perfect leeway for my aspirations to come true.”
Sallee, who graduated in 2010, said he had already gained some experience in information technologies before finding OSUIT’s program.
“My skill set was already in the IT area, and I thought digital forensics sounded interesting and that it was something I would like to pursue as a degree,” he said, but the real world experience on internships was the key to his education. “Being exposed to some of the forensic tools, processes and lingo was helpful since that gave me a little bit of understanding in this field, but I really couldn’t have jumped right into a forensics job without that additional training on the job.”
Randy Ritchey, dean of the School of Information Technologies, said the work Hollis and Sallee are doing now has become very important.
“Many cases they work on would not be solved without their skill set,” Ritchey said. “The field of digital forensics has at least doubled if not tripled since the last decade.”
Hollis said her time at OSUIT was invaluable because it gave her the foundation she needed and the experience with aspects of the industry she had never tackled before.
“The education I received at OSUIT helped prep me for the constant changing atmosphere in my career. Some days might be slow and others might be extremely chaotic. It really gave me the confidence I needed to build my own system as well as systems for other people,” she said.
For this year’s Tulsa TechFest held Aug. 5 at OSU-Tulsa, Sallee presented on advanced Microsoft Windows forensics in relation to intellectual property theft.
“More precisely I covered USB device analysis, LNK analysis and JumpList analysis,” he said. “It was a pretty big gathering of industry professionals and students from a wide range of IT fields.”
Hollis presented with Avansic CEO Gavin Manes on Analytics and E-Discovery.
“For me, presenting at TechFest meant a lot because I’m a recent graduate but also because I’m a woman. To be considered knowledgeable enough to present alongside 10 other female speakers, I felt extremely honored,” said Hollis, who was one of about 70 speakers in total who presented at the event. “I pray I can be an inspiration to other girls and women to go after jobs in these STEM fields even though they are predominantly male. Women have a completely different aspect to offer these areas, and we really need more of our minds working together.”
Ritchey said he’s proud that two alumni from the program were asked to participate in the event.
“TechFest brings multiple computer disciplines together. It’s important to provide guidance to young students looking to enter the computer field,” he said. “We are very proud of Jessica and Joel. They are great examples for our future IT students, and it demonstrates to our students that they can find outstanding careers in Tulsa.”