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Katie Smith


College of Engineering
US Navy
Information Assurance Specialist


  • Biography
    Professional Profile:  

    Originally from St. Maries, ID. Katie graduated from the University of Idaho with a BS degree in Computer Science and a minor in Business in 2006. She is now a graduate student in the Masters Program. 


    Katie's interest in computers developed early.  As she puts it, "I’ve been interested in computers since kindergarten when my parents brought home our first IBM.  It was my favorite toy.  I spent hours playing games on it and tinkering with the command line interface." From that point forward, if there was a computer somewhere Katie was experimenting with it.  By the time she entered middle school, she knew she wanted to study computer science in college.  That was also about the time when she developed an interested in computer security. She enrolled in CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associates) classes in high school and participated in several computer related competitions sponsored by Business Professionals of America.


    "After reading up on colleges in Idaho and their offerings for computer science programs, the University of Idaho stood out as the best choice."


    Katie decided to attend the University of Idaho and here's what she had to say about the things that influenced her. "I originally wanted to get farther away from home while going to college.  However, I ended up receiving the Idaho Governor’s Challenge Scholarship.  That and some other scholarships gave me the equivalent of a full ride if I were to go to school in-state.  After reading up on colleges in Idaho and their offerings for computer science programs, the University of Idaho stood out as the best choice.  This was confirmed during my first visit to campus for Vandal Friday.  I really loved the beautiful campus and friendly atmosphere."


    The summer Katie graduated from high school, she immediately started working with a technology consulting company.  Ever since, she's complemented her academic learning with practical experience, holding part-time technical jobs during the school year and working full-time consulting during the summers.  During the summer of 2006, she interned at Google in Mountain View, CA, then the following summer worked for the Center for Cyber Defenders at Sandia National Labs in Livermore, CA.  With respect to these experience, Katie remarks, "Needless to say, it was very important to me that I get the real-world experience to back up and expand upon what I was learning through my college computer science classes."


    "It was very important to me that I get the real-world experience to back up and expand upon what I was learning through my college computer science classes."


    In addition to time spent in classroom and work activities, Katie has somehow found time to be involved a number of extracurricular activities including membership in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).  She was a panel member for the 2006 Women in Engineering Day and a Vandal Friday panel  for incoming freshmen. She also participated in the Linux User Group (LUIGI).


    During her freshman year Katie lived in French Hall in the Theophilus Tower followed by two years in the Engineering Learning & Living Center which provided the opportunity for involvement in outreach and just general social activities.  Demonstrating a variety of interests, Katie was also a member of a martial arts group, Budo Infusion, where she helped teach self defense and karate classes. After her internship at Google, she became the Google Ambassador for the University of Idaho campus which "required" her to throw pizza parties and distribute Google swag to students taking computer related classes while spreading the word about Google. With respect to involvement in outside activities Katie makes this suggestion, "I recommend that students get involved in as many activities and groups as they can while going to college.  You get out of your education what you put into it.  If you are curious about something or find it interesting, take the time to go investigate it or go see your professor and pick his or her brain on the topic.  Developing good people skills is key to becoming successful at what you do."


    "You get out of your education what you put into it. If you are curious about something or find it interesting, take the time to go investigate it or go see your professor and pick his or her brain on the topic. "


    During her senior year Katie decided to get a head start on a master’s degree and began taking graduate courses.  "My undergraduate experience here drove me to continue on with my masters at the University of Idaho.  There were so many classes that I still wanted to take, and I felt like I was just beginning to really learn the things I wanted to."  For a long time Katie has been interested in computer security and information assurance and that was a major influence in her decision to continue in the graduate program at the University of Idaho. Another consideration was the Scholarship for Service (SFS) Program for students interested in information assurance.  The SFS program is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and pays the full cost of attending school in exchange for a period of employment with the federal government in the information assurance area. For her research topic Katie is studying how to secure Voice over IP (VoIP) communications.


    "The thing I've enjoyed the most in my graduate career is the relationships I have built with my professors and fellow students."


    Technical achievements are not always the things one recognizes as being the most significant in a learning environment, as Katie expresses. "The thing I've enjoyed the most in my graduate career is the relationships I have built with my professors and fellow students.  The group of students we have coming through the Information Assurance program right now is top-notch." Backing this up, Katie and several of her fellow students have formed a team to compete in “Capture the Flag” and other types of security competitions similar to what goes on at DEFCON.  They compete under the name “Pwntatoes” and recently took second place in a national competition hosted by Polytechnic University in New York.  The competition was conducted over the internet, then to recognize the team's success, the program paid for their travel to New York City to attend the award ceremonies.   The team also plans to participate in additional  competitions.


    "The University of Idaho has also provided me with a setting to make contacts that I will utilize for most of my professional life."


    "The University of Idaho has helped give me the education I needed to get an internship at one of the most competitive technology companies in the world (Google) as well as an internship at Sandia National Laboratory."  She discovered that the resume preparation and application review services provided by the Career and Professional Planning (CAPP) Center were invaluable. "The University of Idaho has also provided me with a setting to make contacts that I will utilize for most of my professional life."


    Katie had these final thought to express, "I HIGHLY recommend the SFS program to anyone that is interested in computer security and information assurance. The program helps you graduate without owing any money and provides you with valuable contacts all over the US. The camaraderie we experience as a group is also great to have, and I feel like we all push each other to reach that next level."


    It's not surprising, but Katie is thinking even further ahead and one day hopes to attend law school with a special interest in how the law is applied to and affects technology and intellectual property. 


    April 2008

    The views expressed on this page are those of the individual being profiled and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Idaho or other institutions. References to specific organizations and companies does not constitute endorsement of their products or services by the University of Idaho.


    Copyright © 2008 University of Idaho Board of Regents

It was very important to me that I get the real-world experience to back up and expand upon what I was learning through my college computer science classes.