Pittsburgh Technical College (PTC) Brings PRTG into the IT Networking classroom
Partnership led by instructor Philip Grabowski creates a unique applied approach in teaching an innovative monitoring and controlling system, processes and techniques.
With more than 1,900 students and nearly 315 employees, Pittsburgh Technical College is a career-focused postsecondary institution offering bachelor of science, associate in science and certificate level programs of study. Its School of Information Technology, led by Academic Chair Dr. John Scarpino, installed 1,000 PRTG sensors within the school's virtual network (a sensor is a particular, individual monitoring entity - it can monitor one network connection, one URL and one port per instance). The College's associate degree programs in Information Technology-Network Administration, Information Technology - Network Security and Computer Forensics, and Computer Programming and its new bachelor of science degree in Information Systems and Technology use PRTG to monitor their VLAN, including Virtual Machines running on an ESXi virtual center stack. PRTG monitors the College's Cisco switches, routers and domain controllers.
About Pittsburgh Technical College
Providing career-focused education since 1946, Pittsburgh Technical College offers degree and certificate programs in more than 30 areas. Its 180-acre campus is home to the American Academy of Culinary Arts, the Energy Technology Center, the Nursing Simulation Center, and many hands-on specialty labs. PTC is accredited by the Middle States Commission of Higher Education.
School of Information Technology students can earn an associate degree in Computer Programming, Network Administration, or Network Security and Computer Forensics. Additionally PTC IT students can pursue a bachelor's degree in Information Systems and Technology. Microsoft and Cisco certification preparation also is offered. In the 2016-2017 academic year there are nearly 300 IT students enrolled at the college. For more information about PTC, visit www.ptcollege.edu.
Monitoring a campus-wide internal network
The College also created its own internal BOTNET lab, a fully functional network in a sandbox environment. The Lab is used to monitor for a BOTNET attack, perform wireless WPA cracks and penetration testing, and create Malware, Low Orbit ION Canons (LOIC) and other attack scenarios to help prepare students to handle challenging network-security situations.
PRTG was selected by Pittsburgh Technical College's IT faculty for its ease-of-use, its superior dashboards, which visually grab the attention of the students, and its adaptability to the lab environment, according to Instructor Philip Grabowski. "We were searching for a dashboard with a great visual layout that provided meaningful data," he explained. The web interface and the Android app for PRTG give faculty and students easy access to monitoring the network from mobile devices while they are on the go.
"Students need to be acclimated to software tools that they will see in their IT careers. My hope is that a PTC student graduates, gets a job and runs into the (PRTG) product at work and will already have a working knowledge of it."
Philip Grabowski, IT - Network Administration, Network Security and Computer Forensics Instructor
Giving students hands-on technical experience in the classroom with PRTG
In addition to monitoring the internal School of IT network, Pittsburgh Technical College is taking PRTG a step further by applying it within the college's IT curriculum. Students taking the baccalaureate-level course IST310 actually use PRTG as part of their coursework, gaining "hands-on" experience working with the solution and monitoring a network. Instructors believe this direct experience using an actual product as an important part of the IT student's education and training. "Students need to be acclimated to software tools that they will see in their IT careers," said Grabowski. "Our collaboration with PRTG provides an opportunity to share industry knowledge with our IT students in their classroom which is extremely useful in our hands-on, project-driven learning environment."
PRTG was implemented when Pittsburgh Technical College built its BOTNET attack lab, which is separated from the institution's network and the IT classrooms.
Grabowski plans to develop additional rigorous labs in the future with the help of Paessler AG engineers. He also plans to implement PRTG into the curriculum for both BS and AS security courses.