Meet Nico Campuzano

The School of Computing and Information is home to plenty of innovative scholars, but many of our students follow several passions, some of which lie outside of information technology. For example, when Nico Campuzano’s not studying cybersecurity, fans can find him goalkeeping for the Pitt men’s soccer team. Since coming to Pitt over the summer to start his Security Assured Information Systems Certification, Campuzano says he feels very supported by Pitt in both efforts, with the guidance of helpful advisers from both the athletic department and SCI.

His certificate follows the big data track, which drew his interest because of an overlap he sees in sports and technology. As an undergrad in Spain, and eventually at the University of Portland, he studied computer science, but he wanted to further develop a theoretical approach to big data. He says he was drawn to Pittsburgh because SCI was one of few schools on his radar that offered this kind of certification, as opposed to a master’s in computer science or a similar program.

“It’s a very broad program, and that’s why it interests me so much,” Campuzano says. “You get the basic big data information, but then all the electives and all the rest of the classes can be basically tailored to your personal interests.”

During his first season learning the ins and outs of the Pitt men’s soccer team, he also studied network security with Professor Ahmed Ibrahim, one of Campuzano’s favorite classes at Pitt so far. He’s one of only a handful of students in the class, where Dr. Ibrahim engages them in fascinating conversations and gives each student individualized attention to advance their cybersecurity training.

In mid-October, Campuzano and his classmates participated in the National Cyber League’s competition, since Ibrahim’s course requires students to participate in cybersecurity competitions. There, students faced information scientists throughout the country in a series of cybersecurity problems, applying what they’ve learned to challenges like password cracking, log analysis, WiFi network security and more. Campuzano says it was one of his favorite and most valuable moments of the course.

“If you challenge yourself, it’s a really good way to see, what are the areas where you’re comfortable and what are the areas where you need to put a little more work in,” Campuzano says. “It touches on the most basic skills that any information security professional needs to master.”

After a successful semester of network security — and saves on goal — Campuzano says he will likely finish the certificate program in fall 2021. Once it’s over, he plans to play soccer professionally while gaining cybersecurity field experience through freelance or part-time work, which he says SCI has done an excellent job setting him up for.

“It gets you the practical experience,” Campuzano says. “You get to work on real-world applications, which basically makes you feel like you can work for any real-world project.”