Network Security Expert An Wang Sees Great Promise in CWRU's Online MSCS

An Wang.

An Wang had no idea she'd be teaching online when she began leading her spring 2019 "Computer Networks I" course at the Case School of Engineering. Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and Wang—along with everyone else—was forced out of the classroom and in front of a webcam.

She likes what she discovered during her first foray into online teaching. As she explains in this interview, Wang soon realized that many students prefer online learning—especially at the graduate level, where individuals juggle school work with professional and family obligations. Graduate students value the flexibility to study whenever and wherever, and they appreciate the time and expenses saved by not traveling to campus several times a week. The Online Master of Science in Computer Science program at Case Western Reserve University offers all these amenities and more.

The program covers "a wide range of topics from machine learning and AI to system-related security," Wang observes, making it a good choice for students looking to develop expertise across disciplines. Wang's research centers on network security with a focus on software-defined networking (SDN), a networking approach that increases agility, bolsters performance and capacity and affords greater control over security. Students in her class can expect a deep dive into SDN, Distributed Denial of Service attacks and Internet of Things (IoT) security and safety monitoring, among other essential networking-related subjects.

We spoke with Wang about the promise of online education, her areas of expertise and the benefits of online education.

You have taught graduate-level computer science both in-person and online. What are some of the benefits of online learning?

Well, for one, I think many students prefer to take courses online. They like being able to review the materials in their own manner on their own time. They can review the slides accompanying lectures or watch the videos over and over until they really get it. It's also great for students who are in different time zones. It's very flexible.

I would add that I don't think there is much difference between online teaching and traditional teaching in terms of content. The media students use to communicate are different, but the end result is the same. Whether students bond in a physical classroom or over social media, in the end, they feel that they are part of a community that works and learns together.

It's important to stress that even though students in this program are remote, they still have to work together. The program fosters a strong sense of community among students through projects and study groups.

What course will you be teaching in the program?

I teach "Computer Networks 1," the introductory course to computer network systems. We cover various topics related to computer networks and the Internet, and study the different layers of protocols in the networking stack. By the end of the course, students understand how the Internet works on a pretty deep level.

Like all courses in the program, mine consists of a combination of lectures, hands-on projects and homework assignments. The lectures are delivered in a hybrid mode. Students get some information from pre-recorded online videos, and we also have synchronous sessions on Zoom where students can ask questions on the materials or the assignments.

Is computer networking your area of specialization?

Yes, my research specializes in computer networks. Specifically, I use advanced network technologies, like software-defined networking, to improve the quality of services of network applications or defend against various types of attacks—Distributed Denial of Service attacks, for example—in data center networks. Software-defined networking essentially allows you to program the functions as software, which gives you a lot of flexibility in the network systems. We take a comprehensive look at software-defined networking in my online class. It's one of many topics that should directly relate to students' daily jobs in their careers because we discuss practices that the industry currently uses.

What would you tell potential students considering enrolling in the Online Master of Science in Computer Science program at Case Western Reserve?

First, I'd suggest you look at the courses we offer in this program. They cover a wide range of topics, from machine learning and AI to system-related security. Students can really learn a lot from this program across a lot of different disciplines. Several of our faculty have expertise in data science, so that's definitely a strong area that computer science students should definitely benefit from.

Second, I'd point out that online students at Case Western Reserve have access to all the resources available to on-campus students. They receive the same department newsletters with access to job and internship information. The Alumni Career Network connects students to our alumni; that's a beneficial resource open to online students looking for career opportunities.

Finally, the university is ranked very high and is highly regarded, regionally and nationally. You'll earn a valuable degree here. And now, because the program is available online, you don't have to relocate to enroll. You can study at Case Western Reserve no matter where in the world you live.

The Online MS in Computer Science program at Case Western Reserve University's Case School of Engineering prepares students for leadership roles in the digital age. The 10-course, 30-credit program can be completed in as little as five semesters. If you're looking to bolster your computer science skills and credentials and you have a background in data structures, algorithms and operating systems, CWRU's online computer science master's is just what you're seeking. Why not apply today?

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