Designing and Building Secure IT Systems: An Open Meeting of the ISC(2) New Jersey Chapter and MITRE Corporation

Designing and Building Secure IT Systems was an open meeting held in conjunction with the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, Inc. (ISC)2®, New Jersey Chapter and MITRE, a not- for- profit company that operates federally funded research and development centers. The event was open to MBS students and other Rutgers-affiliated individuals, as well as members of ISC(2).  

The night began with networking and refreshments, which gave students the opportunity to mingle with the many IT security-experts in attendance. This was followed by opening remarks by Dr. Steven Richman, professor of Engineering Management and Secure Systems, which is under the Masters of Business and Science program here at Rutgers. Dr. Richman gave a brief overview of his career and how he came to the MBS program. He emphasized that systems security was very important and that the implementation should be done proactively and not reactively so as to minimize cost and risk. Dr. Richman also expressed his fondness for (ISC)2® and the great work they have done within the field.  

The meeting consisted of a moderated panel discussion followed by two presentations, one focused on hardware and the other on software. There were seven panelists, each from different companies and industries within the IT security world and they gave us a view of what they do and the various job opportunities within their fields. The panelists and speakers included:

  • Steve Schwartz, Director of Cybersecurity Oversight and Controls, S&P Capital IQ
  • Cindy Cullen CISM, CISSP, CCSK, SSBB, ITILv3, MsCSC Chief Cyber-Security Strategist, ESP Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Company and President, (ISC)2 New Jersey Chapter
  • Mrugesh Patel Senior Communications Engineer, The MITRE Corporation
  • James Withers is a Department Head at MITRE, The MITRE Corporation
  • Jim Horn, Principal Communications Engineer, Networked Munitions, The MITRE Corporation
  • Dr. Steven Richman, Professor, Engineering Management and Secure Systems, Masters of Business and Science, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

The panel discussion was very thought provoking, as each panelist presented on what their companies do and why their work is important. Some had formal PowerPoint presentations and others casually spoke about their experiences or answered questions given by the moderator or audience members. Notably, James Withers, department head at MITRE, gave a great presentation on the challenging and necessary work that goes on at MITRE. He advised that MITRE works on issues of critical national importance and being a not-for- profit really sets them apart because they can be independent objective advisors to government. Mr. Withers even let us know what it takes to be a MITRE employee, which was of utmost importance to the students and young professionals in the room. He let the audience know that he hired students who were well rounded and mentioned that having your degree alone would not make you a marketable candidate, but internships, being involved in clubs and societies along with showing your initiative, innovation, integration and integrity would definitely set you apart.



After the formal presentations, the floor was opened to the audience and many questions were posed to the panel. A MBS student asked Cindy Cullen, the only female panelist, about the outlook of female representation in the field of cyber security. Mrs. Cullen answered by saying that the field very much mirrored the panel, as the ratio was about 1:6 women to men. She could not comment on why more women are not getting into the field but she did say that she very much enjoys the work that she does and that her husband also works at Hewlett Packard where she is the Chief Security Strategist. Another curious question posed by a student was on the topic of certifications and their necessity in the IT security arena. There were very different answers to this question, as different segments of the field require different qualifications. An audience member replied that certifications were absolutely required on the commercial side; whereas Mr. Withers of MITRE stressed that the certifications were not as important as showing your skills demonstrated through different projects and experience. All in all, it seems that once students decide upon the sector of security they want to get into, they should do some more research to be better informed on what certifications are necessary. 

After all the stimulating discussion the night ended how it began - with more networking. Students and audience members got the opportunity to ask more questions of the panelists, and I am sure many business cards were exchanged. Many connections were made and students and audience members were able to learn something more about the IT security field.

Key Points

  • Security is a very critical and fast-growing field with a myriad of opportunity. In the words of Cindy Cullen, “the beauty of cyber security is that you have so many different areas you can go into”, which is a positive outlook for young graduates.
  • Security is everyone’s job and it is important for security to be considered in every stage of design and not only as an after thought.
  • One job that may be interesting for students may be cyber policy, which is not as technical but is a great career with many job openings. 


For a more in-depth analysis on employment skills and titles in cybersecurity, please see our follow-up article.