Bryce Schimon’s interest in technology began with video games and a desktop PC loaded with Windows 95. “One of my favorite consoles as a kid was Sega Genesis,” he said. “At one point I played so much I got blisters on my fingers.” Today Schimon doesn’t find a lot of time for video games, but fosters his passion for tech at UW Tacoma through the Information Technology (IT) program with a focus on information and security assurance.
Schimon’s early interest in technology came from his dad, whose career is based in IT. “My dad is somewhat of a ‘computer nerd’ and has been a mentor in a lot of the classes I’ve taken here,” said Schimon. “My mom was the first in her family to go to college, and as a teacher, she shaped my work ethic through her encouragement and showing me that hard work pays off.”
Though he had an interest in technology, Schimon didn't plan on pursuing a career in the industry. “Originally, when I started at UW Tacoma, I was on the pre-med track,” he said. “I continued on that path for two years with the goal of being a physical therapist.” All this changed after he had the opportunity to attend the South Sound Technology Conference in the Spring of 2016. “I got to hear the CEO of Infoblox, a network security company, talk about cyber security across the internet and felt a great calling to this type of work,” said Schimon.
Schimon found his calling, but after failing a calculus class his sophomore year he had to take summer classes to make up the credits. “I decided to apply to the Information Technology (IT) program here at UWT, but they only accept people during autumn quarter,” he said. “Knowing that made me work that much harder to make up the credits because I really wanted to get in.”
Schimon was accepted into the IT program that fall, and quickly joined the on-campus club called the Grey Hat Group where he’s now the Vice President. “I connected with more people in that first quarter in the IT program than I had in my first two years at UWT,” he said. “It was awesome to feel that sense of community both within the program and through the Grey Hat Group.” The club serves as an interest group that focuses on network and software security as well as physical security. “Our meetings are twice a week, and serve as an open forum to discuss technology-related projects people are working on,” said Schmion. “Sometimes there are presentations, but we like to work with websites that simulate design flaws that we then try to hack into and therefore learn to protect against hacking in future projects.”
Hacking — or really the prevention of it — has become a long-term interest for Schimon, who wants to build a career in ‘ethical hacking’, research, and consultation. “In a way, the same joy I got from gaming back in the day I now get from the sense of accomplishment from the infinite challenges hacking presents,” he said.“I think it’s pretty cool that I can go to a university to learn not just the fundamentals of technology like networking, programming, databases, and web design, but how to protect the security of each aspect.”
One of the high points for Schimon as a part of the Grey Hat Group was the opportunity to go to Las Vegas for Defcon in 2018, the largest hacking convention in the United States. “I really like being a part of competitions,” said Schmion. “I think it’s a great space for us all to learn from each other.”
Schimon is currently doing cybersecurity work as an intern with the City of Tacoma and is considering pursuing a career in that field. “It’s scary how much data can be available through a single flaw in a website,” he said. “Most of my experience has been in the offensive side of security, so it’s enlightening to see how we can utilize defensive security to maintain internet safety. I enjoy the responsibility, and being able to put my knowledge to work on ‘real life’ problems.”
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org